Late Bloomers

Posted: March 2, 2010 in Uncategorized

I’ve just been reading ‘Late Bloomers’ in Malcolm Gladwell’s What the Dog Saw (Allen Lane). It’s heartening. He contrasts Picasso – precocious, ferociously naturally talented – with Cezanne, who had to painfully slog at learning to draw, to enable his vision to take shape. Cezanne would not have survived as an artist without support.

I find this doubly reassuring. I hold in mind the model of Penelope Fitzgerald, who never started earning in the higher tax bracket until well into her seventies. Age is not a barrier.

The other thing Gladwell talks about is the unconditional support of Cezanne’s father, and, another example, Ben fountain’s wife – paying the bills and keeping the household afloat not just for a year but for decades. It makes me think of Julia Cameron’s remark, what wouldn’t we do to support those we love – why can’t we extend the same to support to ourselves?

Which brings me back to the Writers’ Award. It’s hard to convince anybody if you don’t believe in yourself. And sometimes I think the real purpose for me of these applications is to convince myself that I am worth it. I wonder if the source of my frustration with myself is not my distractibility or disorganisation, poor time management or any other surface symptom, but a simple desperate lack of faith. I have a horror of being like those X Factor contestants who can’t sing and don’t know it. I fear I am too insanely deluded.

It cheers me to think of Cezanne learning to draw. I did an art foundation course and I can remember literally crying at my easel, trying to grasp perspective and 3-D. It’s just hard, and it really does help to know that other people find it hard too.

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