Late Bloomer

When I was in high school, I read “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter” and loved its intensity. Carson McCullers published it when she was 23.

I decided I would write my first novel by the time I was 23. I didn’t succeed for a simple reason: At 23, I hadn’t even started a novel.

Writing takes a combination of talent, hard work, and life experience. I knew I wanted to write pretty early in life, but I’ve been a late bloomer in a lot of other ways. I had my first kiss at age 21, first boyfriend at 22. Married and had my son in my mid-thirties. (My mom was 23 when I was born.)

Carson McCullers died at 50. According to her bio on Wikipedia, she had health problems, including addiction, throughout her life. Perhaps the universe sped up her talent just as it sped up her time on earth. Perhaps she simply had experienced a hell of a lot in her childhood and adolescence and was also lucky enough to be ready at a young age to translate her experiences into literature.

There’s something thrilling about “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter,” a passion may have been the result of McCullers’ youth. But there’s also something special about a writer like Alice Munro, whose stories convey a long life lived.

Nowadays, I love stories about late bloomers, whether in writing, art, film, music, sports, career choice, or business, because they give me hope that anyone can blossom, regardless of age.

Got any good late-bloomer stories for me?

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5 thoughts on “Late Bloomer

  1. Dr. Tom Bibey

    I spent my life as a country doctor and semi-professional bluegrass musician. I was old a decade ago when I started my book. They said I couldn’t do it, and the world was too hip and too young to read my work, but my book “The Mandolin Case” is due for release in about two weeks.

    If they live long enough, old bumble-bees can fly.

    Dr. B

    Reply
  2. Sarah

    Malcolm Gladwell did a piece a couple of years ago asking “Why do we equate genius with precocity?” He argues (if memory serves…it’s been a while since I read the piece in detail) that in fact people’s careers are highly diverse and contingent on a lot of variables, and that getting there early doesn’t equal moral or intellectual superiority. As a former wanna-be wunderkind, I found his article pretty comforting:

    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/10/20/081020fa_fact_gladwell

    (Though ironically, wasn’t Gladwell kind of a wunderkind?)

    And here: http://www.powells.com/review/2010_05_26

    a review of a recently released collection of short stories that reads in part:

    On her blog, Black writes about having sold her debut collection in a “hotly contested auction” at age (gasp) 46. “The editors who liked the book all talked about appreciating what they called the ‘maturity’ of the stories. It was actually viewed as a positive that the author had some years behind her. That it didn’t read like a book a twenty-something could write.”

    (My husband recently described a work colleague of his as being “on the cusp of middle age.” I asked him what that meant in numbers and he said, “Oh, late thirties I’d guess.” Great.)

    Reply
    1. equotah Post author

      I actually sort of had that Gladwell article in mind when I was writing my post. I read it when it came out and it’s stuck in my mind.

      Forty-six is 23 times two — perhaps I have a new age of precocity to aim for.

      Reply
  3. Pingback: Here I Am Again « Firstborn Literary Child

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