Friday, May 23, 2014

The Arrogance of Authorship

For more than four decades, I knew exactly what I'd do when I got up: make my coffee, turn on some classical music, and pick up my writing where I left off the day before. It was a lovely routine, and one that made me very happy for a lifetime.

But lately, since I've retired and begun to grow older, I don't have the same sense of urgency about my writing, and it's a wistful, uncertain feeling. I am still working, of course, but on many days, I get up and watch something on HBO GO on my computer rather than write. Such a thing would have driven me crazy at one time. But those times have changed.

I AM still working more or less regularly, and I have two books coming out in the next year, but more and more writing seems to be an act of near arrogance--with tens of millions of blogs, millions of Facebook pages and Twitter feeds, everybody is a writer.

When I came along, the model was that one had to earn the right to call himself a writer, to publish a book, to stand up before the public and claim the title Author. Not any more. Now, you just call yourself an author, self-publish your book, and use social media to promote yourself.

I hear myself sounding old fashioned, and I hate it, frankly. Anyone who claims that authorship is something hard-earned and seldom completely won is too often seen as elitist or even smug. But that's life, and one either swims in the stream and risks drowning or gets out and watches the world from a safe but dull shore.

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