But Doherty is no anomaly in this instance. It is common for commoners to believe that great people were born great. For example, Shenk relates in The Genius in All of Us that people believed that Beethoven and Mozart could see music when they were born. But "[i]n truth, their ability to "see" music came only after years of intensive work-and in Beethoven's case, after horrific abuse.
Even in fiction great people have to work hard to do well. A protagonist in Nabokov's The Gift was a very hard worker and a focused writer who avoided wasting time:
He worked so feverishly, smoked so much and slept so little that the impression he produced was almost frightening: skinny, nervy, his gaze at once blear and piercing, his hands shaky, his speech jerky and distracted (on the other hand he never suffered from headache and naively boasted of this as a mark of a healthy mind). His capacity for work was monstrous, as was, for that matter, that of most Russian critics of the last century. To his secretary Studentski, a former seminarist from Saratov, he dictated a translation of Schlosser's history and in between, while the latter was taking it down, he himself would go on writing an article for The Contemporary or would read something, making notes in the margins.
And how about Gabriele d'Annunzio who was arguably the greatest Italian poet of all time? Here's an excerpt from Hughes-Hallet biography. It exemplifies how d'Annunzio was a hard worker even as an adolescent:
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