We’ve already decided that it’s okay for fictional characters to be unlikable, but what about nonfiction writers? At the VQR blog, Jennifer Niesslein interviews essayists on whether their success is based on how amiable they are. “I think it’s ridiculous to expect to like someone who wrote a book you love, but the increasing visibility of writers on social media—who are expected to be the ambassadors of their books—amps up the pressure to be well-liked,” Cheryl Strayed said.
“I am going to propose: The rigmarole is truly underexploited. Everyone should write a ‘Conversations with Drummond’ about themselves and about every opinion-spouting person they know. For the historical record. For revenge. For the children. Especially if you’re well-known, or right in the middle of the action, or both.” Anthony Madrid for The Paris Review looks at Ben Jonson, William Drummond, and the rigamarole.
Freedom the program might not actually be so freeing: “It has been argued that a chronic fever of distraction and fascination arrives on waves of Wi-Fi to stunt our attention spans, encouraging writers to paddle about, tweeting and liking, instead of striking out for deeper waters…” But maybe writers need distraction, after all. (Then again: a detox might do you good.)