Writing Prodigy or Late Bloomer?

I was tooling around on the web and came across a link to an October 2008 article in The New Yorker by Malcolm Gladwell – “Late Bloomers.” It is a great read – go check it out. Gladwell makes some interesting observations about the nature of artists and the process of creation.

He cites evidence from David Galenson at the University of Chicago that equates a different philosophy between prodigies and late bloomers – conceptual versus experimental – in how they execute their vision.

Picasso is utilized as the prime example of a prodigy, he is quoted as saying:

“I can hardly understand the importance given to the word ‘research.’ The several manners I have used in my art must not be considered as an evolution or as steps toward an unknown ideal of painting. . . . I have never made trials or experiments.”

Picasso represents artists that have a clear vision of what they want to do and they execute it into the medium in which they are working.

By contrast, Cezanne is shown as an example of a late bloomer – working by trial and error to search out the artistic vision. Cezanne is quoted as stating: “I seek in painting.”

Gladwell points out the implications of this research and understanding of the creative process – late bloomers are not just overlooked prodigies, or late to discover their gifts and talent, they are fundamentally different. At first glance they look like failures, before that seeking and experimentation leads to a unique style and success. And to complicate matters, not everyone will evolve to that next level. Gladwell writes, “Whenever we find a late bloomer, we can’t but wonder how many others like him or her we have thwarted because we prematurely judged their talents. But we also have to accept that there’s nothing we can do about it. How can we ever know which of the failures will end up blooming?”

My recent novel has similar origin. What would happen if a woman left her family and reappeared thirty years later? How does the absence of a generation shape identity? The process of writing and creating a journey for my characters has given me answers I didn’t expect. And I believe in the emotional truth I’ve found.

I seek in my writing. Who knows when I will bloom, but I’m happy to be on the journey.

Photo credit: Satosphere

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