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Genius is tied up with precocity. We think brilliance requires youth and energy and freshness. Mozart wrote his breakthrough Piano Concerto No. 9 in E-Flat-Major at the age of twenty-one. T.S. Eliot wrote "The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock" at the age of twenty-three
Economist David Galenson decided to find out whether the assumption is true that creativity, when discovered early, burns brightly, and then die out at an early age. He found that is what not so. Some are late bloomers. Mark Twain published "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" at forty-nine. Daniel Defoe wrote "Robinson Crusoe" at fifty-eight.
Prodigies like Picasso, who created a masterpiece at age twenty, tend to be "conceptual" in the sense that they start with a clear idea of where they want to go, and then accomplish it. Picasso once said that he could hardly understand the importance given to the word 'research.'
But late bloomers tend to work the other way around. Their goals are imprecise and their procedure experimental. They build their skills gradually throughout their careers, improving slowly over long periods.
Experimental artists are perfectionists and are typically plagued by frustration in their inability to reach their goal. Their creativity proceeds through trial and error and takes a long time to come to fruition.
Late bloomers don't realize they're good at something until they're about fifty. It's not that they start late; It's that they simply aren't much good until late in their careers.
Young Cézanne had rare endowments, but he couldn't draw. Cézanne required decades of practicing before he could master his ability.
Prodigies have it easier. Their genius gets noticed from the start.
Late bloomers have it harder. On the road to great achievement, they will resemble failure. They may revise and despair and change course and slash canvases. After months or years, what they produce will look like a thing produced by the artist who will never bloom at all.
The success of the late bloomer is highly dependent on the efforts of others.
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