Monday, October 27, 2008

On blooming late

I was ecstatic last week to find, in the New Yorker, a justification for my existence. At last! Malcolm Gladwell writes in the Oct. 20 issue about late-blooming creative types, like Ben Fountain and Cezanne. OK, the problem with laties is that they do look, for much of their lives, very much like another group whose designation starts with "l" (followed by "o," "s," "e"--you get the picture). So they require a good deal of forebearance and faith from those around them--those who may even have to financially support them, while telling them over and over that they don't suck, even when, at the time in question, they do. The early work of the late bloomer is indistinguishable from that of the loser. But Gladwell's point is that late-blooming is not simply a matter of figuring out, late in life, what you are good at. There are, in fact, two different kinds of creativity. One is the "young genius" kind that we are most familiar with, in which beauty springs fully formed from the often equally beautiful young creator. The other is the "experimental" kind, which requires years of gathering and testing and reviewing and rehearsing. Yes, years! Decades, even! Did I mention Cezanne? How about Mark Twain--it took him 10 years to write Huckleberry Finn. I've only been at my novel for four...and a half...

That's my new story, and I'm sticking to it. Thanks, Malcolm!

1 comment:

Prill Boyle said...

Love your take on Gladwell's article and your comment about Twain. (I've been working on my novel for 3 years.)