All is vanity


But does that mean all writers are vain? Well, maybe just most of them.

The more experience I have of writers, the more I notice their little signs of vanity, such as the tendency of many to bring the conversation back to their own works at the slightest provocation. “As I wrote in my …” is an all-too-typical monologue opener. It’s a common vice, of course, but given that writers are supposed to be exceptionally curious people, you would have hoped that they would be less inclined to make themselves the focus than others. Perhaps it simply reflects the fact that for all a writer must be interested in the world, he must also deeply explore his own view of it.

People know that boasting is unseemly, but a certain amount of self-promotion has become obligatory in publishing, with authors sometimes contractually obliged to blog, tweet or maintain some kind of other social media presence. Expanding your ego becomes part of the job and what is initially undertaken as a necessary evil can easily morph into habitual self-aggrandisement. Indeed, as publishing evolves in this way, selection pressures might mean that the average author these days is just more vainglorious.

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