Pretensions in the Craft

As I wait, tortuously, for a reply from a magazine, I was struck recently by something a friend of mine said while we were having some coffee. "Writers," he said, "are mostly full of themselves."

"Well," I said, "of course they are." Everyone wants to be the next Hemingway, or Dickens and in that reaching to the heights some actually believe they are the next great author. Pretension runs high in all forms of art and all artists are either a little pretentious and a touch humble, or a little humble and mostly pretentious. Though it seems to me---maybe because I'm around more writers than visual artists, maybe because I've been lucky and have meet mostly decent people---that writers tend towards pretension more than others.

Why is that? It's not as though this is a particularly hard thing to do. Well, of course it is a hard thing to do. A hard, tiring, awful, remorseless thing to do to you and your mind. But really there isn't much to it. You sit, you stare at a page for maybe a couple of hours and then you write out a few thousand and go back to sleep. Not challenging stuff when you think it through. So why then does such pretension exist among writers?

I have no idea.

I can guess and say that maybe there's some social reason, something about how we view writers as they masters of the human soul that are so much deeper and wiser than the rest of us instead of just some guys and gals that hang around in their pajamas fiddle with keyboards AND GET PAID FOR IT!

But really I have no idea why this is the way that it is. I mean, this all might just be supposition on my part. Who knows. I've sure met a lot of self obsessed writers out there and some nice humble ones. I myself have been known to be a little pretentious in the past.

Interesting thought though.

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