Writer’s Caveat

“I was going to say that you cannot employ your time worse than in making verses. An author, whether good or bad, or between both, is an animal whom every body is privileged to attack: for though all are not able to write books, all conceive themselves able to judge them. A bad composition carries with it its own punishment–contempt and ridicule. A good one excites envy, and entails upon its author a thousand mortifications: he finds himself assailed by partial and ill-humoured criticism: one man finds fault with the plan, another with the style, a third with the precept which it strives to inculcate; and they who cannot succeed in finding fault with the book, employ themselves in stigmatizing the author. They maliciously rake out from obscurity every little circumstance which may throw ridicule upon his private character or conduct, and aim at wounding the man since they cannot hurt the writer. In short, to enter the lists of literature is willfully to expose yourself to the arrows of neglect, ridicule, envy, and disappointment. Whether you write well or ill, be assured that you will not escape from blame.”

The Monk by Matthew G. Lewis

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2 Responses to Writer’s Caveat

  1. woowooteacup says:

    What a great and mortifying quote. Why would anyone want to become a published author after reading this? Makes me understand J.D. Salinger’s reticence to expose himself.

    I guess the best bet is to write and then ignore the naysayers.

  2. LK says:

    That’s what I’m doing, the ignoring.

    Breaking into the publishing industry though, is giving me the jeebs. I have the novel I’m writing that I’m totally in to, and I have the prospect of writing the next novel that is cliche and will hopefully sell.

    This quote from Lewis is a charm and I think one has to go with the, “if they’re talking about me, bad or good, then at least they’re talking about me” philosophy. Quite truthfully, I hope I get smeared one day because at least then I know I’m published! : D

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