The company of other writers

William Zinsser, whose classic On Writing Well is one of the few how-to books on writing I own, states in his last post at his weekly blog column that he doesn’t hang around with writers.

He’s not “a citizen of writing.” He doesn’t join writers’ organizations, or show up at writers’ talks and panels.

Writers tend to be not as interesting as they think. What they mainly want to talk about is their own writing, and they also have a ton of grievances, their conversation quick to alight on the perfidy of publishers, the lassitude of editors and agents, and the myopia of critics who reviewed–or didn’t review–their last book.

In my humble opinion, thinking oneself more interesting than one is, wanting mainly to talk about one’s work or interests, or complaining about those who make that work a trial can be fairly consistently observed across the board of humanity. Still, for all that it smarts, his assessment of writers is probably right, even when he goes on to describe them as “one of nature’s most insecure species.” Continue reading