Earlier this week I listened to Terry Gross’s interview with author Donald Ray Pollock, whose novel, The Devil All the Time, was just released. His first book, a collection of short stories titled Knockemstiff, set in the eponymous Southern Ohio town where he grew up, was published in 2008. His gritty, often bleak tales won not only critical acclaim, but the PEN/Robert Bingham Award and the 2009 Devil’s Kitchen Award in Prose. His was an unusual—and protracted—journey to being a writer. According to NPR, “Pollock dropped out of high school at the age of 17 to work in a meatpacking plant. He then spent 32 years working in a paper mill before quitting to pursue his dream of becoming a writer.” I thought this was a pretty terrific story. I found further inspiration re-reading Malcolm Gladwells 2008 New Yorker piece on late bloomers.
In it he writes “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 by the artist who will never bloom at all. Prodigies are easy. They advertise their genius from the get-go. Late bloomers are hard. They require forbearance and blind faith.”
I wondered if any of you are, like Pollock, relative late (new) comers to creative writing? Holler if “forbearance and blind faith” sound familiar.