…entitlement is the enemy of artistic progress, which requires patience and gratitude, and above all, humility. You don’t grow as a writer by writing off other people’s efforts. You grow as a writer by respecting the process.
This quote comes from “The Problem of Entitlement”, an article by Steve Almond, which was featured in the Sept/Oct issue of Poets & Writers magazine.
Although entitlement and snark are close cousins, Almond distinguishes between them by defining snark as “a conscious attempt to cast aspersion for a narcissistic crowd”, often by using social media and other public venues to criticize other writers. Snark overall is a tool of self-promotion, Almond says. It’s a way to convert resentment at someone else’s success into self-promotion or attention.
Entitlement, he says, is a type of “defensive snobbery”. It’s an attitude that an author somehow was successful in spite of the drivel they produced (with the understanding that you as the true artist have been unfairly overlooked). It’s judging the work of others without actually reading what they wrote. It’s in looking for reasons to dislike someone else’s work, to pick it apart and put a spotlight on every tiny flaw just to show how refined, how discerning, how artistic your tastes are. In short, it’s tearing down others to build yourself up.
Creating is hard and it’s often personal, requiring the artist to examine and perhaps second-guess their beliefs, values, and interpretations as they reveal bits of themselves through what they create.
Consuming is easy and easier still is spitting out what we consume, claiming it is tasteless. Easiest of all is judging it not worthy of our time without even taking a taste of it.
Every time I read a book that I don’t like, I remind myself of one key point: the author has managed to do something I haven’t yet—they have finished and published a book. I have to respect that effort, that process, even if I don’t care for the end result.