I’ve been a bad flash fiction writer- I’ve had a story sitting in my draft pile for weeks, and I just haven’t had the creative energy to finish it. Not that I have nothing there- on the contrary, I’m only about 100 words away from the limit, which is a problem in itself, as I have an approximate idea of where the story is headed but I know that 100 words is nowhere near enough to wrap things up. Which means I’ve got to go and do some chopping. I’m also perhaps dragging my feet on this story because the next one I’ve got lined up is, per my friend’s request, a mystery. I’m not a big fan of mysteries- mainly because I get impatient and I skip ahead to the ending (thus rendering the point of a mystery moot.) We shall see what my brain comes up with (disclaimer coming out now so no one throws rotten tomatoes my way when you read it.)
I did recently finish Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers- The Story of Success in one sitting and found it very intriguing. Like his other book that I read (The Tipping Point) Gladwell takes very broad ideas and explains them in very simple terms for us laymen to read and actually grasp. It takes stats and facts from studies but integrates them with anecdotes, personal histories, cultural backgrounds, and more so that everything he says just seems like plain common sense when you read it. (His theory: you need 10,000+ hours of practice at something before you’re considered a genius/master/outlier. Anything less makes you good and maybe great, but not brilliant, like Mozart.) Also, extraordinary people are made from a combination of luck, the right circumstances, higher skill level/intelligence than most people (but not necessarily all people), the ability to spot and seize opportunities, and just plain old-fashioned hard work.
Whether or not you fully buy into his premise is up to you, but it’s a fairly quick read and certainly makes you reconsider the genius of Mozart or the brilliance of Bill Gates or even the reason why many Asian students are better at math than the other students (this Asian student is an exception- my parents recognized that my interests and strengths lay with the liberal and creative arts and thus didn’t force me to become a doctor.)
Though Gladwell didn’t need to go into the history and culture of rice farming in East Asia to talk about Asian students’ academic success. Amy Chua, aka the Tiger Mom, (or any Asian parent) would probably tell you that the secret to a successful student is a combination of: instilling good work habits with discipline and practice, stressing the importance of education and not being a disgrace to the motherland by being a crappy student (my parents never actually said that but stories of kids in China going to school on weekends were not lost on me), threatening to take away certain beloved items or hobbies (and I knew darn well that my parents would make good on their vows), and making sure that kids early on understand that an A- is NOT an A (I think A+ should count for more than 4.0 in college. Just saying.)