I’ve always been fascinated by Bob Ross and The Joy of Painting. I suspect he sold his soul to the Devil for the ability to create masterpieces with little effort (and for his epic afro).
However, Bob Ross is an example of a master of his craft: he makes painting look easy but in fact it takes skill and practice to do what he does. He makes viewers believe that if they just take up a paintbrush and set up an easel, they too can graze the canvas with brushstrokes to create happy little clouds and snow covered mountains. But it must have taken him years to perfect his methods.
This seems to be a sure sign of a master; no matter how difficult the task, he/she makes it seem so simple. I’ve found that to be true of authors as well as actors and painters.
Good writing is so fluid, so well put together, it gives you the impression that the author wrote her book with no difficulty at all and got it right the first time. What we don’t see are the countless drafts, the time spent editing and rewriting, and the frustration the author must have experienced to produce the book we hold in our hands.
The same kind of magic is on display on cooking shows. Ever noticed how your favorite cooks are able to chop those vegetables so easily and create scrumptious dishes with a wave of a knife? Try doing it yourself, and the Giada’s 15 minute recipe turns into an hour long gag-fest . . . if you haven’t been practicing your cooking enough.
So the road to mastery–if it’s even a goal we can ever truly reach–is a long one, paved with repetition, hardship, and error, but the end result never betrays the hard work involved. It makes you go “hmm, I could do that!” And you can, but only if you put the work into refining your craft.
And as I resume work on my novel, that gives me some comfort. 🙂
What do you think are the signs of a master?