Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Bloom - "Late" according to whom?

When my attention was drawn to the website called Bloom for the first time, I had already long been annoyed by the fact that new authors beyond the mark of 35 or 40 years encounter many obstacles that younger writers don’t have to think about (like age limits for competitions, to give only the most obvious example). The editors of Bloom confirmed my impression that our modern society is so focused on or downright obsessed with youth that writers like me are widely ignored.

Often we aren’t even taken seriously. Someone who spends hours on end creating stories at a young age is working hard on a career, while someone who plunges into writing later in life just passes time with a nice hobby, no more. At least, that’s how I experience it every time I tell a stranger that I’m writing fiction. Even when I was unemployed for a longer while, writing was never perceived as a possible new career for someone over forty like me. They were glad that I had found a suitable pastime.

Everybody knows that there have been writers who had their breakthrough in their forties or later. We heard of them in school, but seldom remember who they were. Average readers usually don’t bother to research a writer’s biography. Publishers, critics, and competition juries are making a fuss about birth years. Thanks to Bloom there’s a website now that focuses on the so-called late bloomers of literature and shows to the entire world that there are many more of us than thought.

The list of authors featured since the launch of Bloom in November 2012 is already long. Writers like George Eliot, James Michener and Bram Stoker appear on it. On the occasion of the International Women’s Day on 8 March there was a feature dedicated to five Victorian authoresses who were late bloomers, too. Nobel Prize laureates for literature Toni Morrison and José Saramago still wait to be portrayed on the website although they are mentioned in the About Bloom section.

I’m already curious to see who else will be featured on Bloom and how many of those writers I would never have expected to find on this site. May we live to see that age is considered nothing but a number and we are just bloomers - no matter if early or late!

For further reading I redommend:
the series Post-40 Bloomers at The Millions and
Malcolm Gladwell's gorgeous article from The New Yorker about Late Bloomers - Why do we equate genius with precocity?

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