I have mastered my craft as a writer.  You might be raising an eyebrow at my arrogance.  You might have several questions, including “Does this mean you think you’re awesome?” and “Do you think you can’t get any better?” 


We do have an idea of “mastery” as “perfection,” or “superiority.”  Certainly the master must be superior to the novice in some way.  Otherwise, why would the white belt study with the black belt?


Have you mastered driving a car?  Probably.  Does that mean you’re awesome at driving, you’re now the best driver in your state, or that you couldn’t get better at it?


Let’s be clear.  I do not think I am the best writer.  I do think I will get better if I am conscientious (and live long enough).


I’ve spent my life trying to master a number of things:  writing, playing the piano, playing jazz, composing, orchestrating.  In each case, I’ve gotten to a fairly high level.  In each case, I’ve discovered something amazing.


The better I get, the more I realize how incredibly good my role models are and how far I am from them.  This is the real gift of mastery.  Not that you can do something well, but that you can dispense with the illusion that you will ever be done learning it.


This is a tremendous gift, and I’d suggest it’s the best reason to master something.  Not so you can show off, but so you can enjoy what you do without having to obsess about how good you are at it.  That’s mastery, of your craft, and of yourself.


I draw every once in a while, but I am far from comfortable with my skills.  I maintain a hope that at some point, when my life slows down, I will take the study of drawing seriously.  Mastery has taught me that I can begin that work, even at an advanced age.


Should I say, “Why should I bother learning how to draw like a master starting at age 60?  I’ll never be able to have the 50 years of experience I’d need to get really good.” “Chill,” mastery replies.


“Remember what I taught you about writing?  The process of growth will always be there no matter what level you’re at.  The only difference is how you treat yourself on the journey.”





Adam June 12, 2017 @11:13 am

Maybe there's a distinction between "being a master" and having "mastered" something. To deem oneself a "master" creates an impression that mastery is a static thing, like the title. To say that one has "mastered" something is more generous and fluid. You may not be a "master car driver," but surely you've "mastered driving a car!"

Darcy June 12, 2017 @08:45 am

Thank you for reminding us that mastery is simply defined as "comprehensive knowledge or skill in a subject or accomplishment." Sometimes people get confused because the second listed definition is "control or superiority over someone or something". I can confidently say that I would have never won the job I have had I not been a master on the horn. (And I do have a Master's degree in performance, haha.) But I love the wisdom that the master is even more aware of how much s/he can still grow and learn. I have recently been learning a ton about mouthpieces and intonation (two separate issues). It's fascinating!!

Dave June 12, 2017 @05:33 am

This is a great topic for philosophical debate. Can one truly master a craft? Can one deem themselves a master or must that lofty title be bestowed by others? My gut reaction is that mastery is an elusive bundle of an exceptional level of proficiency with sixth sense understanding and control of a process. To that point I am not a master car driver but I am capable. I am not a master song writer or musician but I am capable. I may be approaching mastery level in color correction. 21 years of global experience coupled with a fortuitous combination of eyesight and color acuity. Color correction seems very simple and easy to me at this point. The game has slowed down. However, in all of my endeavors, the refinement and growth process is never ending.

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