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Apprenticeship

In Outliers, Malcom Gladwell talks about the 10,000 hour rule. You can hear him explain it fully here, but in a nutshell it says that you have to practice your craft for 10,000 hours before you become an expert; 10,000 hours equates roughly to 10 years which means that for the first 10 years, you are an apprentice.

This applies to every industry and to every skill.

The construction team that did work on my house this summer had three apprentices at varying levels of expertise. One guy needed only occasional assistance while another (a teenager right out of high school) needed a lot of supervision. Did I think less of the teenager? Of course not. He was in his first year on the job. No one expected him to be an master craftsman, but everyone expected him to be willing to learn.

Most of the runners I work with have never run before in their lives. No one expects them to compete with the elite athletes. In fact, the elite athletes cheer them on; they applaud the novice running her first minute interval.

Gladwell says, “We’re far too impatient with people. When we assess whether someone has got what it takes to do a certain job, we always want to make that assessment after six months or a year. And that’s ridiculous. The kinds of jobs we have people do today are sufficiently complex that they require a long time to reach mastery. What we should be doing is setting up institutions and structures that allow people to spend the time and effort to reach mastery, not judging them prematurely.”

Why is it then, that as writers we insist on judging ourselves prematurely? Why do we fear that our work won’t be good enough? Good enough for what? Readers don’t expect our debut novels to compete with the masters; they expect us to be willing to learn.

We are apprentices, and that’s as it should be.

Valerie Francis

The Mystery of Mrs. Christie

Well, you’re not going to believe this. Reece Witherspoon and I picked the same book for our February book clubs. Sort of.  Late last year, I came across THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE by Marie Benedict and was fascinated by the premise. Benedict writes historical fiction, much like Philippa Gregory,

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Valerie Francis

A Girl Named Howard

This month, rather than recommend one book to read, I’m recommending the entire body of work of one author because Anne Rice, who passed away December 11, 2021, single-handedly revolutionized the role of vampires in literature.  Yes, vampires.  And the impact she’s had is more significant than you might realize.

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Valerie Francis

The Christmas Bookshop

If you’ve had it up to your eyes with holiday preparations and are looking for a light-hearted story to escape into, The Christmas Bookshop, by Jenny Colgan, might be just the ticket. The title is a bit misleading, in my opinion. Yes, there’s a bookstore. Yes, the plot unfolds in

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