Sunday, December 07, 2008

OUTLIERS and a Writing UPDATE

Today I finished reading Malcolm Gladwell's excellent book OUTLIERS: THE STORY OF SUCCESS. My mom turned me onto him back when his last book TIPPING POINT came out a few years ago.

The book is a brilliant argument against the notion of the "self-made man." Apparently, Mrs. Clinton was right--it does take a village. People profiled in the book include Bill Gates and The Beatles. All of whom stand out as above-average success stories. All of whom had help from their environment/up-bring that led to their success. But it is, of course, more complicated than that.

You also have to practice. One of the most intriguing parts of the book is on the subject of practice. Apparently, no matter what it is you're trying to do...study after study has determined almost the exact amount of time it takes to reach "master level."

That number is 10,000 hours (roughly a decade of strict practice).

And speaking of "practice," I finally got around to working on some writing this weekend. Leah wants me to enter this local Micro-Fiction contest sponsored by local brewing company Schlafly's. The top prize is $1500 and a case of beer (guess which one I REALLY want).

It was TOUGH going from 90,000 page novel to 500 word "stories." In a way it was a good exercise. In the process, I came up with some interesting ideas for future projects (so even if I don't win, which I probably won't--I got SOMETHING good out of it by brainstorming). You're allowed to submit three stories, I wrote two new ones and re-worked an old one:

"Loco" is about a spectral train that smashes into this lady's house.

"Forty-Three Cent Zombies" is about the infamous "dead-letter" office at the Post Office.

And I re-worked/shortened "Homeless" which is about...a homeless man. I posted it a long time ago here on the blog. You can read it here.

2 comments:

Terri said...

I'm part of your village. Good luck with the contest.

Jason said...

Thank you, Terri.

You are part of my "village." In fact, other than my Senior year English teacher, I've never had a teacher influence me the way you have.

I wrote A LOT of really bad stuff in your Creative Writing classes and you were always very encouraging. Thank you.