The kite-flyer’s calling
[Writing] is certainly an irrational thing to do if you want either of the usual rewards of fame and riches. Of course, they’re there, but no self-respecting gambler would get into this game at all. Not even a wild one. Nick the Greek would faint at the odds against the writer. And here’s an interesting fact that a lot of people haven’t thought about. Maybe they have. I come slow to all these ideas. Have you ever stopped to think that for the first time, there have been no rational rewards for writing in the way that there were in the past? Much earlier, if you had a patron, that was why you wrote. Obviously, a different type of man is writing books today than was even in the nineteenth century, because when Dickens wrote there was a very definite cause-and-effect relationship. If he wrote the book and it was good and it was published, then he made a lot of money and improved his situation and was highly regarded. And if Shakespeare’s plays did well, as they did, and he was a stockholder in his company, it was a rational enterprise. Nowadays, it’s about as rational as saying, “What do you do for a living?” “Well, I’m a kite-flyer.” I mean, there’s not a great demand for kite-flyers around. There may be a few who draw a little money.