I suppose I’m a bit stuck on financial terms this week. Probably because they are good analogies for how the world functions. As such you can extrapolate insight into a lot of issues far outside the narrow field of bottom lines.
When people hear ‘Diversify your Portfolio’ they immediately think of Wall Street. Your stocks, bonds, and other securities are not the only portfolio you should diversify.
Another image that may come to mind is the artists portfolio. Sometimes this image manifests as a large envelope, full of prints, sitting in the corner of some studio, littered with evidence of robust endeavor.
But why should our hypothetical hep cat painter limit the contents of his portfolio to paintings?
I thoroughly understand that people must play to their strengths. You don’t want to sacrifice a brilliant painter for a mediocre writer or vice-versa.
However, the painter and writer can both benefit greatly by diversifying how and what they write and paint about. I would argue that these two craftsmen can also benefit immensely by spending a little time making serious efforts in each others fields.
The writer who spends a little time learning to paint won’t risk squandering his potential as a writer. In fact his writing is bound to improve. This is because he isn’t spending all his time painting. He’s painting just a little and with serious intent.
As such he will glean new insights because he is engaging parts of his brain that he normally wouldn’t. He has to think about perspective, shading, background and foreground and learn how to use his hands in a coordinated way to create an intelligible image.
All this dexterity will translate into better writing. The same applies to the painter who tries writing and has to learn about pace, plotting, character building, etc.
So what’s a reasonable amount of time to devote to learning a new skill to help along your current skill? It varies from individual to individual. What works for me is devoting a half hour to hour each morning for a couple of weeks to the new task. This way I learn a new skill without sacrificing current skill-sets.
This journal is built on recognizing the value of diversified skill-sets. This journal is unique in that I double the value for my readers by providing both fiction and nonfiction works.
It struck me last night after I published a poem that some people may find this approach amateurish. (Especially of poems in the context of a news/commentary- reporting flavored journal such as this.)
There certainly does seem to be a consensus that serious people focus on one field and hone their prowess there to near perfection. It’s not an entirely misguided notion. Michael Crichton was master of the techno-thriller, Tom Clancy of military adventure, and Poe of weird story and dark poetry.
Perhaps I differ from these people in that I diversify my approach publicly. I think it is to my benefit that this journal is open-ended, factually rigorous (as possible), musing. Time will tell.