Friday, August 27, 2010

Prodigies and Late Bloomers

I just finished reading What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell. Unlike his other books, this one is a compendium of some of his New Yorker pieces.

I was particularly interested in the one about Late Bloomers. Gladwell describes the fascination our culture holds for creative prodigies: the Picassos, Mozarts, and Kieron Williamsons of the world. These are the people who sit down and create a masterpiece in their first attempt. But are we all destined to be creative failures if we don't possess that edge early in life?

Gladwell says no. He discusses Cézanne, whose work improved with time. Cézanne required the steadfast support and encouragement of close friends to reach his creative potential.

The same is true of artists, writers, and creatives of all kinds. Gladwell calls late bloomers "experimental innovators." They are the people who need to experience things, often multiple times, before their ideas become clear. Experimental innovators are the people who spend years rewriting and revising, modifying and altering their work until it shines.

Do you see yourself as an early- or late-bloomer?


  1. I am definitely a late bloomer. I am in my early 50's and I finally sat down and starting writing for real. I think it takes what it takes in each of our lives. We arrive at our path at exactly the moment we are supposed to. Do I sometimes rue my late start? Absolutely. But I'm here now and that is what matters most.

    Thank you for sharing this info, that rebel, Olivia

  2. Experimental innovators: I like that term. I'm no prodigy, and have nothing against them; but the true test of talent is in the journey IMO.

    Life is a learning experience; so is writing.


  3. Olivia: I agree that that matters most is that we are here now.

    Donna: I couldn't agree more.

  4. Found my bliss at 50. Now I'm chasing after it.