Jack of All Trades, Master of None…

Here I am, dipping a toe into blogging again. Sometimes I wonder whether I have too many hobbies—although, truth be told, most of the time I don’t think about it. However, since it’s a retrospective time of year, here’s what I’ve been up to, and what I have to say about it:

  • Writing my novel, A Footnote to Plato. I’ve got the plot pretty much settled (I think, I hope) so now it’s a matter of tweaking sentences—the fun stuff. I’m at the point now where I need to take some time off and come back to it later, with fresh eyes. Perfect timing, because here are the holidays to distract me.
  • Reading. Book club books mostly. I’ve got a post on “Machines Like Me” by Ian McEwan coming up next (I’m nearly done writing it, otherwise I wouldn’t be making promises). Plus, just for me, one by a local author, Kimi Eisele, who’s connected with a woman in my writing group. Eisele’s debut novel, The Lightest Object in the Universe, was a pleasant surprise. I doubt I would’ve chosen to read an environmental apocalypse romance story had I stumbled upon it in a bookstore, but I’m glad I did. I didn’t find the characters terribly compelling, but that didn’t matter, the story’s scope made up for that. It’s been a little while since I’ve read it, but sometimes I find myself thinking about its premise: What would the world be like if we had a chance to start over?—Note: A chance to start over…Optimism is the theme explored here, both the good and the bad.
  • Baking. Bread, cookies, pies, you name it. It occurs to me that I’ve been baking a lot more ever since the doctor told me I have the diabetes gene (thanks Ma), so I’ve been experimenting with low-sugar, whole-wheat, etc. Many blah cookies came out of this process, let me tell you, but now I have a decent cookie recipe that will be my consolation should I at some point in the future come home from the doc with bad news.
  • Flamenco. This has been taking up a great deal of my time. I’ll be doing a flamenco performance with the Southern Arizona Women’s Chorus, “A Spanish Allelu,” on December 22nd. It’s my first real gig, and while I’m a bit nervous, I’m also looking forward to it. It’s been interesting choreographing to choral music. Also, I’ll be doing another gig/demonstration in January which might involve me modeling a vintage Sevillanas dress originally made for a 12 year old child. If it fits…
  • Movie-making. Short home videos over the summer, as inspiration hit:

  • Gardening. For a long while I simply gave up on vegetable gardening. But then it occurred to me that I might have more success if I did things on a smaller scale, using only the out-of-the-way space where we’ve installed Geordie’s sandbox. I bought a raised—maybe I should say elevated—bed to plant some lettuce, carrots, and peas over the winter, rigged it to the irrigation system, and now I’m letting it do its thing. And Geordie’s taking his job of guarding the area very seriously, as you can see. No critters are getting my veggies this year!

    Yes, that’s basil and a very sad-looking tomato plant on the left side of the photo.

  • Watercolor painting. Thanks to the Great Courses, I have a renewed interest in painting, this time working with a split primary palette (why wasn’t I taught this in high school?) in watercolor—far simpler to set up and clean up. And it appears I’m specializing in dogs. Here’s one I did of Geordie (not the greatest photo…unfortunately the lighting comes from below) and another of his girlfriend, Bean:

IMG_0050     IMG_0180.JPG

Now then, have I been spreading myself too thin with all these hobbies? Perhaps. But then again, let’s follow that quote to its conclusion…

Jack of all trades, master of none,
though oftentimes better than master of one.

I figure I might as well do what interests me rather than force myself to slog through something I’m not into at the moment. Life is too short. And there’s something to be said for cross-disciplinary study. Besides, I find these things come in cycles, seasons, if you will. So then, is this my season for blogging? Too soon to tell. But here I am for now.

What do you think? Do you ever feel overwhelmed by your hobbies/interests? Is it better to master one thing rather than be a jack of all trades?

To my American friends, I hope you have had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and happy holidays to everyone!

12 thoughts on “Jack of All Trades, Master of None…

  1. Hey Tina,
    I’ll be curious to see your impressions of McEwan’s book. I haven’t read it. It didn’t sound like it had anything that a lot of science fiction authors haven’t already covered, but I’ve wondered if that judgment on my part was too hasty.

    Can’t say I feel overwhelmed by my hobbies, but then I don’t have that many, and have a tendency to drop them if they become burdensome. Obviously that’s not good for things that require commitment, like a garden. And maybe I’d make more progress on my writing if I did feel more pressure on it.

    Work on the other hand, often provides plenty of opportunities for being overwhelmed, although not at the present.

    On whether to master one thing or be a jack of all trades, I think there’s a lot to be said for having basic skills in a lot of areas. Along the lines of the Pareto principle, you can probably get 80% of the benefits of each area with 20% of the effort. It’s only when you want to excel at something that the additional 80% becomes necessary. That effort is best saved for the one or two areas you’re really interested in, while you’re interested in them. That said, this topic is probably one of my 20% ones, so take that with a pinch of salt. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • I wouldn’t shy away from reading the book based on the reviews (I’ll get into that more in my post), but it’s true that it doesn’t cover new ground really. In a way, I think that’s the point. I think he relies on Sci-Fi tropes to build tension and shape reader’s expectations (he really is a master of building tension.) That said, not everyone liked the book. The ending isn’t clear, it allows for sometimes opposing interpretations—I think that was also the point. In any case, I hope you do read it because I’d love to discuss it with you.

      Glad to hear work is not overwhelming at present. I did notice you’re getting a lot of blogging done lately. Kudos to you!

      I agree with you on picking and choosing activities in which to invest that 80%. Unfortunately for me, I tend to invest 100% in whatever it is I’m doing, even if it’s something I don’t really care about. Like cleaning the inside of the oven this morning…I wish I’d given it less than 5%. I certainly didn’t wake up this morning thinking about how I’d finally get a chance to tackle that oven cleaning, and I probably won’t even notice how clean it is next time I use it.

      Liked by 2 people

      • On McEwan, we’ll see. Maybe after I read your review. I’ve only really read one other review, and it didn’t really entice me.

        I did do a lot more blogging this year, probably more than anytime other than the first year (when I posted daily). In many ways, it wasn’t really a time thing. At the start of the year, work was actually very intense. In many ways, the blogging was more of an escape mechanism than anything else. (It really still is.) Although work mellowing has allowed a lot more book related posts. I also made an effort to just lower the threshold of what led to a post, giving myself permission to do a 100-200 word post. (Of course, once I start, it’s rarely less than 500 words.)

        On cleaning, I know exactly what you mean. I’m actually pretty slow to start cleaning (which is a problem) but once I get going, I tend to go until exhaustion (also a problem). Moderation is the key, when I can remember to do it.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi Tina, since becoming a full-time writer, I find I have little time left for hobbies, and few spare words for blogging. Still, I have no complaints. It is good to write and even better to publish, and best of all to make a living from doing so. I have two out of those three goals ticked off and am closing in on the third!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Nice to hear from you, and I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying your productivity. It’s funny, for me, writing is the fun part. I don’t even want to think about publishing. It all sounds way too complicated. I may have to ask you some questions about that at some point, once I get my novel done…I should say, if I get my novel done!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Let me first say, welcome back to blogging (even if for just one post), and you are clearly a very talented person. I’m impressed by your watercolors! (And the Flamenco is just awesome; you rock!)

    Speaking as some with very eclectic tastes and lots of hobbies, the idea of being overwhelmed by one’s hobbies and/or interests doesn’t make sense to me. Hobbies are intended to be fun and relaxing. If they overwhelm, something is wrong with your approach. The only issue I have have with diverse interests is the lack of hours in a day and the need for sleep and variety.

    I think I’d also rank very high on the “jack of trades” scale, because, again, my interests are all over the map, including both the arts and science, and my life experience has also been rich and diverse. So I know a little bit about a whole lotta stuff. A few of those interests (e.g. physics) have been part of me since childhood, so I’ve put in my 10,000 hours (and then some in few cases), but I don’t think I’d claim mastery to anything.

    There really is something to that idea that the more you know, the more you realize you have to learn. Fortunately, I really like learning!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks! 🙂 On the watercolors, I actually traced from photos—I suck at drawing—then basically colored between the lines. Oddly, that idea never occurred to me before I watched a watercolor class on the Great Courses.

      I know exactly what you mean about not having enough hours in the day. My God do I know what you mean. That said, as a child I was almost constantly bored, whereas nowadays I rarely experience boredom anymore. Being an adult is so wonderful.

      I’d agree that you’re very high on the jack of all trades scale. Theater, music…and you do sky diving, right? Although that one seems like an all or nothing sort of skill. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Heh, the skydiving is one hobby I had to give up because I wasn’t “getting” it. Given enough time I think I would have, but work and how much time skydiving requires just didn’t work together. (It was an hour drive to the dropzone, and even when the weather cooperated, you might only get half a dozen jumps in a day (if you stayed there all day long). It’s a hobby that required serious dedication.)

        Above you mentioned putting 100% into anything you do. That’s how I roll, too. It can be exhausting and limiting, but I yam whats I yam. (Actually, I don’t even like yams.)

        Liked by 1 person

        • I had no idea you could skydive multiple times in one day. Wow. Assuming for some odd reason that I decided to do it, someone would have to push me out of the plane, and I’d probably have a heart attack before I hit the ground. I don’t even like getting on ladders. Or watching others get on ladders.

          BTW, do you listen to Tom Petty on the drive to the dropzone? 🙂

          Yeah, it’s 100% for me, and it’s exhausting. Sometimes it pays off, but other times I wish I could stop myself from wasting so much time and energy. Moderation!

          Liked by 1 person

          • Ha! That Tom Petty song gets used in a lot of skydive videos. 😀

            Most jumps I made in a day was, I think, seven. It depends on how busy the place is, how many planes are running.

            FWIW, altitude is different from height. I knew a long-time skydiver (and drop zone owner, and expert balloonist) who was terrified on ladders. If you ever wanted to try it, go have a Tandem jump, where they strap you to a trained jumper who does all the work. You’re just along for the ride. (And they do kinda push you out of the plane. 🙂 )

            “If riding in an airplane is flying, then riding in a boat is swimming. To experience the element get out of the vehicle!” 😀

            Liked by 1 person

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