I made that up so I could discuss having ‘it’ and losing ‘it’.
They always tell you to define your terms first but, that’s the thing with ‘it’, I’m not really sure what ‘it’ is. ‘It’ is the ability to write. ‘It’ is ethereal, wispy, indefinable. ‘It’ is what draws you in as a reader. ‘It’ intrigues and entrances so that the reader cannot think about anything other than the book, even when away from it, doing something else.
Some writers, like Alice Thomas Ellis, have ‘it’ novel after novel. When that happens, ‘it’ seems a lot less like luck and a lot more like talent. Some writers have ‘it’ sometimes, like Anne Tyler with A Slipping Down Life, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant and If Morning Ever Comes, but ‘it’ is not there in everything she’s produced. Still others, who may remain nameless (but I’m sure you have your own private list) have ‘it’ for a debut novel of brilliance that they can never live up to again as long as they live.
This is the scary part for any writer. Will they ever have ‘it’? Does their WIP have ‘it’? If they’ve created something broadly regarded to have ‘it’, will they ever be able to reproduce that heady mixture of wonderful and clever another time?
This brings me to another, closely linked, question: do we always know when we have ‘it’ and do we know when ‘it’ is gone? (No wonder so many writers turn to drink.)
I think being able to assess one’s own ‘it-ness’ is a problem for anyone who writes. What is better quality or quantity? Should we always strive for our best? (I think so.) Or, if someone is willing to publish anything we do, should we just churn it out?