Over the July 4th weekend I was fortunate enough to be able to spend some time in St. George with a lot of extended family. This was a family reunion and celebration of my Grandpa's 80th birthday. At an art gallery in St. George, three of my aunts put on a concert. All three of these incredible ladies have graduate schooling in music, and work as professional musicians. Two of them are pianists, one a violinist, and seriously, watching them is a little bit mind-boggling.
It's great to see family members in their element like that. They are true masters of their craft. Watching them got me thinking about mastering our craft of writing, and how that long, often arduous process is similar for both writers and musicians.
It takes time. This is probably the most necessary element of becoming a master. In many ways its simply a time game. We have to put in our 10,000 hours, and that takes, ya know, 10,000 hours. My aunts have all been playing music since they were basically toddlers. Not that if we didn't start that early we've lost our chance, but we do need to acknowledge that its just going to take some time.
It takes consistency. I took eight years of piano. (My mom comes from this musical family after all, and is also an accomplished pianist and singer.) But its been a while. So a while, in fact, that basically all I have left is a plunky version of Silent Night. If I had been consistent, and kept going, maybe I would also know how to play Away in a Manger. Really though, even though the daily efforts we make may seem small, and may feel like we're not accomplishing much, it's like the dots on a Seurat painting. It's true, one or two dots by themselves may not be much, but all together, and over time, they add up into something absolutely stunning.
It takes mentors. Each of my aunts have had a multitude of teachers and mentors. It is so important that we find people who we can emulate, and who can teach us. As writers we can do this through classes, through blogs, through books on writing, and lots of other ways. A good mentor can not only give you the lay of the land, but can help you identify and strengthen your weak spots. They also provide the encouragement when all you're seeing is the uninspiring individual dots, and not the beautiful picture as a whole.
So keep working, keep putting in that daily effort, and learn from everyone you can. It's a lifelong journey, but these things can help us become greater masters of our craft.