Allison Gopnik and Tom Griffiths assert in their August 20, 2017 New York Times article, "What Happens to Creativity as We Age?," that creativity declines as we grow older. They use "creative explanations" as their measure of "creativity" and find that preschoolers offer more creative explanations for occurrences than older children or adolescents. This makes them conclude that creativity declines with aging. I beg to differ. I think that their indicator of creativity is problematic. When I was in college I took a Miller Analogy Test, which was, at the time, used for graduate school admission. I thought I had "crushed" the test. More than 50 years later, I still remember one of the questions and my answer. "What is the relationship between a bird and a tree?" Most people would have answered the obvious choice: "The bird lives in the tree." I answered with what Gopnik and Griffiths might consider a "creative" response: "They are both up in the air." I got a terrible score on the test!
As I reflect, I am not sure if I was more creative when I was young; I think I have become more creative as I've aged and I am now at my peak! The reason is that over the years I have become less concerned about what other people think of me, allowing me to take more risks – and creativity involves taking risks. I like to believe that this blog is creative, as I have to come up with ideas about what to write on a regular basis.
And I have just published a novel entitled: Two Sisters of Coyoacán. Based on a true story, it brings the conflicts of the artistic, intellectual and political world of New York, Paris and Coyoacán, Mexico in the 1930’s to life. The novel follows the life of two sisters who unknowingly become entangled in a plot conceived by Stalin to eliminate a powerful enemy. What happens to these two well-meaning young women from Brooklyn when Trotsky is assassinated? CLICK HERE for more about the book.
I self-published the book because I was unable to get an agent to represent me. I got a stream of responses that went from no response (that is a “response”) to "it's not commercial" or "it's too Jewish." I eagerly awaited each response and then when it arrived I descended into a feeling of worthlessness.
I finally decided to publish it myself. But that involved a sort of "coming out." I had to risk that friends and family would say it was poorly written or too light-weight or boring. What if they didn't want to read it? Or started reading it and didn't want to finish because it didn't engage them? What would my children say about the sex scenes? What would writer friends say about the character development? Each month the members of my book group pass judgement on novels that authors have spent years writing by saying: "It's just boring;" "The writing is sophomoric;" or about the characters, "Who cares?"
I was afraid to publish it without having reassurance that it was not terrible--an agent who liked it and an editor who liked it enough to buy it. But then, finally, after writing and revising for many years, I was ready to take the risk. I felt it was putting my "real self" out there for people to judge. I felt it was the biggest risk I had ever taken--other than getting married. It's not going to be a best seller, but I wrote it and it's OUT THERE.
CLICK HERE FOR AN INTERVIEW ABOUT THE BOOK.