One of the teachings found most frequently in Master Rickson's classes concerns attention and zeal for the smallest details. A tighter angle, a position to this or that side of your neck, can save you from some big trouble.
Curiously, love for minutiae is a secret shared by some of history's greatest geniuses -- from Thomas Edison to Van Gogh, just to drop a couple of names.
Some time ago, a great Brazilian writer reinforced this lesson in a virtual class with many students and younger journalists. Ruy Castro, author of award-winning books about bossa nova and the singer Carmem Miranda, was asked about the greatest virtue of a good writer.
His swift reply came: "Easy: To never give up on seeking some piece of information, however small. In the case of a biographer or even a great journalist, the secret is to chase the small details without ever losing hope."
"It may take you six months or a year, and you will piss off some five people until you reach the one who knows, but you can't get deflated," he added. "A biography is made up of millions of particles of information; it's like a Chinese puzzle -- and every discovery will have its value. That's the fun of the whole thing. People always ask the reason for expending so much energy going after a minute detail, which very few readers will care about. But that's the fun. Finding that detail of the life of a character is a challenge that I posed to myself. And I have to win. If I start giving up on a detail, soon I'll be giving up on finding that relative, that old friend or boyfriend, and I won't tell the whole story. If you prefer to abandon the challenges and give up on investigating, it's better to not even write that book. Go do something else; go be a stockbroker. Don't give up on taking on the mysteries, be they easy or thorny."
So that's our lesson, whether you're a teacher, a fighter, chess player or puzzle enthusiast. Breathe, go deep into the details and never lose hope. Imagine your future self seeing your work done, and every drop of sweat will be justified.