Sunday, June 23, 2013

Are Authors A-holes?

My friend, author Elyse Press Major, emailed me this morning with a question: "Do you think 'Author' is derived from 'self-obsessed a-hole?'"

The question made me grin, but it also got me thinking. I can recall my first editor at Delacorte confiding in me over a smoke. "Writers are assholes," he said. I recall my dad showing up at my graduation from my MFA in Writing program at Vermont College and his first encounter with one of the more miserable, stuck up, can't-be-bothered-with-the-common-folk members of the faculty, and him whispering to me, "Who the hell is that asshole?" I certainly recall my first wife screaming at me while I was trying to write at the dining room table: "You're a f'n asshole!" Certainly some of my now fired agents have filed me away under A for ... well you know what. And when some of my novels became Amazon Bestsellers and I started selling more books in a week than that other Albany writer William Kennedy might sell in a year, my head got a little inflated and I most definitely started acting like an asshole.

Today, I'm not always selling more books than Mr. Kennedy and my first wife and I are friends again. I've learned my lesson and deflated my head a little (My apologies to Mr. Kennedy and to anyone else I offended along the way...You know who you are). I still require more alone time than the average bear since I'm always working on multiple projects, and I suppose that might make me a bit of an asshole, but it can't be helped.

So the answer to your question, Elyse, is yes and no. Authors sometimes can't help being a-holes but they don't always have to be a-holes. It's important that we learn the distinction. 



  1. I think you hit it right on the spot. I try not to be an a-hole but I certainly know a few who are. Most of the writers I get together with now and then are not jerks but maybe I just selective.

    1. Great comment Susan...You're right...Thanks

  2. dear vince,

    little elyse major writes in and asks ...

    what a hoot to find my question prompting this post (and i love the hysterical graphic, by the way)!

    i am trying very hard not to be or act like an a-hole; i suppose it's guilt over all of the alone time i crave and need to realize the constant ideas in my head. while my family is very nice at "leaving me alone" it's somehow very different than being alone to work. this all leaves me feeling somewhat self-obsessed at times ... or is it drive? (and there's another query for another post. you're welcome. ha ha)

    thanks so much for all of your hard-earned advice. it's always appreciated, dear and wise friend.

  3. interesting how needing to work on sundays always bring this question to the surface of my mind ...

  4. I created the pic you used for this article on one of my Facebook pages. Thanks for finding another use for it.