Editor! Editor!: Carrie Feron (Part 1)

“Some people just sit down and write every day, and that is always positive.”

Carrie Feron

I’ve been wondering if I talk about myself too much on Aberration Nation, particularly because it’s a forum for interviews. With this in mind, I decided to do a little research to determine how closely Aberration Nation fits the definition of a blog.

Have you ever wondered how the term blog originated from? It’s short for weblog. According to the dictionary, a blog is an online diary or personal chronological log of thoughts published on a web page.

Gee, the underlying premise of a blog could be considered downright self-centered. At some level, the blogger has to believe that not just Mom, Dad, and Uncle Joe but also strangers all over the world will be interested in knowing their thoughts, adventures, and opinions. Either bloggers have a hell of a lot of nerve, or they just can’t stop writing regardless of their audience–or lack thereof.

My guest this week, Carrie Feron, Vice President, Editorial Director, William Morrow/Avon Books, suggests that writers should write even if they know their efforts won’t be read.

Carrie also brings up one of my favorite writers, Malcolm Gladwell. In his book, OUTLIERS, he says that those who rise above the crowd generally put in 10,000 hours of practice.

I decided to somehow calculate the hours I’ve put in thus far. After careful consideration, I estimated that I’ve spent an average of 10 hours per week writing since 1976 (age 10). This includes writing journals, poems, character profiles, letters, short stories, novels, song lyrics, blog content, and non-fiction. My total hours spent writing comes to 17, 160 hours.

Chest bump!
High five!
Drinks all around!

The vast majority of what I’ve written will never be read, and that’s okay. Looking back, I see value in every word. Sure, Penelope Przekop isn’t a household name, but with each sentence I grow closer to the writer I aim to be. I draw nearer to my own definition of perfection.
And after all, J.D. Salinger said, “An artist’s only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else’s.”

In another one of his fascinating books, WHAT THE DOG SAW, Gladwell talks a bit about late bloomers. In his essay on the topic, he says that, “Genius, in the popular conception, is inextricably tied up with precocity–doing something truly creative, we’re inclined to think, requires the freshness and exuberance and energy of youth.” He provides examples such as Orson Welles, Herman Melville, Mozart and T.S. Elliot.

How on Earth did these guys get in their 10,000 hours?

While Gladwell doesn’t provide the answer to that burning question, he does discuss fascinating research conducted by David Galenson, an economist at the University of Chicago. Galenson’s research supports two types of creative genius, conceptual and exploratory, which account for early achievers but also shed light on late bloomers. Some of his examples of late bloomers include Cezanne, Alfred Hitchcock, Mark Twain, Daniel Defoe, and Robert Frost. Based on Galenson’s research, Gladwell suggests that late-blooming genius often falls within the following concepts:

  • Their approach is experimental. There procedure is tentative and incremental. According to Galenson, the imprecision of their goals means that these artists rarely feel they have succeeded, and their careers are consequently often dominated by the pursuit of a single objective. These artists are perfectionists and are plagued by frustration in their inability to achieve their goal.
  • The Cezannes of the world bloom late not as a result of some kind of defect in character, or distraction, or lack of ambition, but because the kind of creativity that proceeds through trial and error necessarily takes a long time to come to fruition.
  • On the road to great achievement, the late bloomer will resemble a failure: while the late bloomer is revising and despairing and changing course and slashing canvases to ribbons after months or years, what he or she produces will look like the kind of thing produced the the artist who will never bloom at all.
  • More so than prodigies, they require forbearance and blind faith.
  • His or her success is highly contingent on the efforts of others (who support their long-term goals).

Gladwell says, “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.”

Come back tomorrow for Part 2. Don’t miss what Carrie has to say.

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