Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Becoming a writer

I think it was Malcolm Gladwell who paraphrased some scientific research and suggested that if a person wanted to be an expert at something, she or he needed to put in at least 10,000 hours of practice. I looked that idea up, and there's some controversy around it, but let's pretend, for the sake of today's moodling, that it's true. Well then, that means I'm an expert writer, ha!

It's an interesting idea. I've never really thought of myself that way. True, I've always loved to write. It all started in Grade 2, when Mrs. Hansen had my classmates and I publish our own big books. I still have mine, and seeing it reminds me of my earliest dreams of being a writer. Throughout my school years, I saved pieces of art and writing of which I was particularly proud. My best friend and I wrote each other lengthy letters through Junior High School, and I kept fat journals of my thoughts and dreams in High School and university days, and beyond. When my youngest daughter was two, I started a novel, and finished it 5 years later. These moodlings began in 2010. And now I'm writing the history of L'Arche Edmonton in fits and starts, when other, smaller projects don't get in the way.

I'm guessing that I've probably spent well over 100,000 hours on writing, stretched out in bits and spurts throughout my life. Does that mean that I'm an expert? Well, that's debatable. I guess it depends on how a person defines the word "expert." Some folks think that if you publish a book or make the short list for a literary prize, that you qualify as an expert. But my sights aren't set so high. I know I'm a writer, simply because I write. And I think I might almost claim the title "expert" (though the literati would laugh at me) simply because I write so much, have learned so much by doing, and have seen a lot of improvement in my work. And because sometimes, people enjoy reading it.

No, my novel hasn't been published, and I'm struggling along with my history writing, but last week I submitted an article to The Edmonton Journal, the one I mentioned in Sunday’s moodling. It took me a whole day to write it, but when it was finished, I was happy with every word that had been wrestled into place. Though the editor came up with titles to fit printed and web pages, she didn't change a word in the rest of the piece. Here’s a link to it.

Now I'm feeling like maybe my 100,000 hours of writing have paid off. I may not be an expert, but, hey, close enough for the moment... and you can bet I'll keep on writing, and learning as I go, and sharing what I come up with.

That's what life's about -- doing, and learning as we do, and finding satisfaction by sharing what we do with others.

Thanks to all my readers for helping me to become a writer.

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