Carmen Herrera is my new heroine. One thing that it is commonly agreed upon at writer’s and artist’s conferences and in books about craft is that those who somehow make it in the art and book world are those who possess one trait above all others: perseverance.
A recent New York Times article by Deborah Sontag entitled “At 94, She’s the Hot New Thing in Painting,” solidifies this point.
In an era when the art and writing worlds idolize, and often richly reward, the young and the new, Carmen Herrera, age 94, “embodies a different, much rarer kind of success, that of the artist long overlooked by the market, and by history, who persevered because she had no choice.”
In the article it tells of a time when her good friend, the painter Tony Bechara, raised a glass. “We have a saying in Puerto Rico,” he said. “The bus — la guagua — always comes for those who wait.”
The Cuban-born Ms. Herrera, laughed gustily, and responded, “Well, Tony, I’ve been at the bus stop for 94 years!”
In Carmen Herrera’s own words:
I do it because I have to do it; it’s a compulsion that also gives me pleasure. I never in my life had any idea of money and I thought fame was a very vulgar thing. So I just worked and waited. And at the end of my life, I’m getting a lot of recognition, to my amazement and my pleasure, actually.
How many of us have this level of stamina and perseverance, this level of dedication to our art? Hopefully, you won’t have to wait 94 years, but how long would you wait at that bus stop for your creative talents to be recognized?
P.S. I am an ex-shrink who writes award-winning novels. Check out my books here.