There was a party for some purpose or another. The host of the party had a piano. As tends to happen when musicians gather and an instrument is available (and alcohol is flowing, but you assumed that, given this was a party with musicians), plenty of folks sat down at the piano, inflated with booze and ready to show off their chops.
The storyteller – I believe it was Kenny Werner in his book Effortless Mastery, but I can't find my copy – watched as his fellow pianists pounded out standard after standard, wincing at the tinny, slightly out of tune sound of the old piano.
Until Bill Evans sat down.
I haven't looked at this book since college, but I remember the gist of it: "Evans touched the keys, and suddenly we were listening to a Steinway grand, rich, beautiful, perfectly tuned."
Is that possible? For a piano to completely change in tone, timbre, and tuning for one man? One master?
When someone shows you an incredible photograph they took, one with amazing color and lighting where the angle is just right, do you say "Wow! What kind of camera do you have?"
When you hear a violinist pouring his heart out through Beethoven and strings, do you ask how much that Stradivarius cost?
What made David perfect – the quality of the marble, or Michelangelo's touch? Was that guy on the island talking to a volleyball so memorable because of the $90,000,000 movie budget, or is it really because Tom Hanks can act his ass off?
Relativity – Escher's pencil, or his unique perception?
I'm not being facetious – well, I'm not trying to be. I'm guilty of a few of these myself, the camera scenario in particular. Someone could shove a decked-out digital SLR in my hands, but I'm thinking that probably wouldn't guarantee my photos a spot in National Geographic.
It's just so easy to credit the final work of art to everything but the master who created it.
So next time someone finds out you're a writer and says "hey, I have an idea for a novel! You should write it!" Or "I thought about writing a book, but I don't have the time." Or anything that implies it's something anyone can do, that a great novel is merely an idea and the time it takes to write it, that it's not creativity and passion and dedication and practice but rather hours and hours of free time that you clearly have and no one else does...
Walk away, and keep writing.
Because when the words are written, the prose is crafted, and your art is on the page, you'll know – it's not the piano.