Monday, October 25, 2010

You're Never Too Old to be Germinal

One of the best parts about being an editorial assistant on a mix of both fiction and nonfiction works is that it requires reading books on subjects you might not otherwise have been drawn to. As a result, you end up learning all kinds of fascinating facts on a variety of subjects. I’m familiar with the life stories and origins of a wide range of people—from John Cage to al-Zawahiri—and know little bits of trivia on the history of medicine in our country and the history of cricket alike. In all my time here, one of the facts that struck me the most profoundly and has stayed with me the longest is that human creativity peaks at the age of twenty-eight.

This little ray of sunshine in my cumulative bag of facts has, of late, become newly relevant. Last Thursday marked exactly two months until my twenty-eighth birthday. I find myself plagued with the question Am I two weeks away from AS GOOD AS IT’S EVER GONNA GET??? Though the specifics of my aspirations have evolved, I’ve always wanted to pursue creative fields (perhaps by default—math and science have escaped me always, the tricky minxes) and the fact that it might be all down hill from here in that arena leaves me with a furrowed brow that’s probably doing nothing to help the physical components of aging.

Needing a remedy for the implications of my favorite statistic, I decided to do some research on the various ages of some of the most creative minds of recent years: the last five winners of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Knowing that it probably wouldn’t be fair to look up the ages of these winners at the publication of the book that actually won the prize since it is often awarded to seasoned writers who have been perfecting their craft for decades, I was interested instead at the age these great minds were at the time they published their first book. (I.E. When do most people who eventually master the craft of storytelling first begin to create publishable works? At point does your creativity flourish enough to get you started on your journey?)

Perhaps it’s na├»ve to use extreme outliers on the scale of “normal” (after all, the point of the Pulitzer is to acknowledge individuals who have distinguished themselves, not fallen somewhere in the middle of the pack, or proven fairly average statistically), but nonetheless, I’m going to take heart where I can. And there’s much to be heartened by in the list below. Perhaps a little bit of the good news to be found there can be applied to the rest of us in moderation.

I may use my heightened powers of creativity to redecorate my living room this coming year, though, just in case . . .

The Pulitzer Prize Winners for fiction from 2006-2010:

2006: Geraldine Brooks:
Won for: March
Age at publication: 55
First book: Nine Parts of Desire
Age at publication: 39

2007: Cormac McCarthy:
Won for: The Road
Age at publication: 73
First Book: The Orchard Keeper
Age at publication: 32

2008: Junot Diaz:
Won for: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Age at publication: 39
First book: Drown
Age at publication: 28

2009: Elizabeth Strout:
Won for: Olive Kitteridge
Age at publication: 54
First book: Amy and Isabelle
Age at publication: 42

2010: Paul Harding:
Won for: Tinkers
Age at publication: 43
First book: Tinkers
Age at publication: 43

1 comment:

  1. This is a really interesting and insightful post! I enjoyed reading and will forward