Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.
– Robert A Heinlein
The majority of writers have always been pretentious twats who overestimate the value of their work to society. With the industry dying, the golden age when reading was a person’s sole source of entertainment fading further and further from memory, one might think that the ego of the average writer would also be diminishing. But one would have to be a fucking idiot.
The modern writer expects more than ever before. It doesn’t matter that journals and publications are becoming endangered, that the industry has been reduced to mainly professionals and want-to-be professionals. Writers reject these facts and cling to the exception rather than the rule, because they are (or so they think) writing the next Game of Thrones and not one of the thousands of books that fail to make back the author’s advance.
Gone are the days of the starving artist, of Charles Bukowski slumming it on Skid Row, a fucked up Philip K Dick cashing a cheque for 20 cents to fend off debt collectors and a Down N Out George Orwell. We live in the Insta-age, where sacrifice and dedication are secondary to status and glory.
The correlation between the Internet and a spike in narcissism is well documented by psychologists, resulting in Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell coining the modern era as ‘The Age of Entitlement.‘ This sentiment is echoed by Anne Manne in her book ‘The Life of I,‘ published by Melbourne University Press.
And with the writer’s natural inclination towards ego and entitlement (George Orwell asserted that one of the main reasons for every writer’s work is “Sheer egoism. Desire to seem clever, to be talked about….” and that “It is humbug to pretend this is not a motive“) there is a disconnect. The modern writer is so full of self worth that they have no room left for a filter between fantasy and reality.
Visit any Internet writing board and you will find amateur writers acting like professionals, handing out advice on how to be published without ever being published, discussing the theory behind their craft and ways to push through the labour involved. Anyone outside of the Internet writer’s bubble would laugh at the use of labour and craft. Sitting at a keyboard is neither intensive nor skilled.
Again, one would have to be a fucking idiot to say as much to one of these Internet writers. They think writing is a grand and physical undertaking and that they deserve to be treated as saviours. After all, writers soldier through the turmoil of their craft for the mega fan base they still believe is awaiting new releases. Anyone that contradicts this misinformed belief is monumentally disrespectful and unprofessional, even Stephen King: “If you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second-to-least of your concerns.” What would King even know about being a writer though? How many up-votes has he gotten on Reddit?!
Not only are these boards breeding grounds for narcissism, they are detrimental to the want-to-be and self-proclaimed writers who populate them:
“I just see a lot of people who want to be writers or claim to be writers but they don’t really want to work, they don’t really want to inconvenience themselves in any particular way to achieve that.” – David Barr Kirtley.
“The one who doesn’t [have a chance at being a professional] is someone who wants to be a writer, like they have this image in their mind of a future in which they are a writer. That’s their title, their identity…. The ones that have a chance are simply the ones who want to write.” – David Wong.