For those of you who have read Outliers, you are probably well-versed in Malcolm Gladwell’s theory about exceptional performance. Anyone, from the Beatles to Tiger Woods to white collar criminals and ditch diggers who is dedicated enough to devote 10,000 hours to a single activity, is likely to become a master of his/her craft. I’ve been kind of obsessed with the concept every since I read the book. Then at the Miami Dade Book fair last week, I heard the Outlier philosophy revisited by an unlikely source.
There was a book talk given by a longtime member of the band Hole. Yes the band frontlined by Kurt Cobain’s widow Courtney Love. This dude, as I remember his name was Magnus, (the only guy in the band) was lucky enough not to succumb to the junkie strand of the Seattle Alternative Rock craze of the early to mid 90’s. He was a good friend of both Courtney and Kurt but somehow had the resolve to know his limits with drugs. However, like most friends of Kurt and others who passed long before their time such as the lead singers of Blind Melon and Sublime, he did struggle immensely in coping with the death of a peer and friend. Magnus turned to streams of consciousness journal writing as his primary form of therapy. Fifteen years later, he has published a book of his exploratory and cathartic journals.
I remember a lot of what he said in his talk. He spoke of how his love for playing guitar began in earnest at age 13 and he would spend hours every day just woodshedding different sounds. He eventually became an outlier in the music world. But now he wants to become an outlier in the writing world too. He admitted that he was a long way from 10,000 hours but that by putting in disciplined effort every day, eventually he would hit that target. The depth and raw vigor of his journals demonstrated that he was well on his way.
Perhaps it’s grandiose of me to say but I too would like to hit that 10,000 hour mark. Normally persistence pays off so why should it be different with writing? I am probably closer to the starting gate than the finish line but as long as I’m moving forward, the gap will lessen. My favorite form of writing is poetry and thus I am including below a link to poem I wrote this week which I feel represents a step forward in my desire to break with traditional verse, and thus entirely let go of the writing. I hope you enjoy it: