Mastery Takes a Very Long Time

Malcolm Gladwell’s oft quoted number says it takes 10,000 hours of practicing anything to become a master of it. I suppose that is true. Based on my own experiences, I’m a master transsexual or gender flaneur, as I referred to myself in my memoir

In other areas, though, not so much. I made a decision at the beginning of the year to become a master professional writer. To this end, I will be publishing at Gentleman’s Gazette a series of articles on the Rules of Civility. Yeah for me!

I’ve agreed to write one article per month. Here’s where the the realm of ignoramus exists, and well before mastery. By verbalizing the agreement with the publisher at Gentleman’s Gazette, and signing a contract to that effect, I’ve suddenly become inept at everything. Last week, I misplaced the macbook charger and had to buy a new one. Laundry takes longer. I can no longer use Scrivner. Everything is just so much harder.

Were I much younger than I am now, I would have already given up. But the virtue of aging reminds me I have already mastered some things – my time, my money, understanding the nuances of my body – and so I know with time and effort on my part, I will move from the realm of the ignoramus.

I’m not really sure what intermediates between ignoramus and virtuoso; probably mediocrity. Actually I don’t think it is mediocrity. More likely it is discipline and dedication. Discipline comes into play when I don’t want to write and I don’t want to read. Mastery is hard to do because I have a short attention span and a lazy streak. While I’d like to believe lust or pride are my preferred deadly sins, in truth, I’m a sloth through and through.

Mastery takes a very long time. Each page I write, I’m learning to be okay with the fact I will be in my late 50s before I become a master writer. But better my late fifties than never; or worse, better my fifties than being dead. Thank you for reading. I’m off to flop around in pre-mastery.