Voltaire, Vidal, Clive James and me

It's hard to be a good writer and a good person.  As long as one is a mechanic with words and the pen/pencil/typewriter/computer remains a mere tool, having nothing to do with the material It  produces, one is is safe and immune to the disease of envy.  In the past, writers were called scribblers and often referred to  themselves as such. Is that a dim, distant, forgetful or forgiving past:?  Caught up with the creation, production and distribution of one's work, one can (almost) forget worrying about the reception it gets. These days it's hard not to, worry, that is.  It's the season of awards and rewards and for a few writers it's a comfortable, not to say blissful, time of being able to afford to live, that is,  to pay one's bills, buy a few new clothes, and maybe a new computer, or is that too much to hope for?  The audience at awards ceremonies comprise the members of the juries, the fund-raisers and administrators (far better paid than the writers), the reviewers and critics (there's a difference),  the rich groupies who contribute the award money, and the writers.  These literary events used to be semiprivate but have gone public though not viral, influenced by the Oscars, the Golden Globes and the Tonys, and the GeeGees,   Gillers, Mann Bookers, as well as the Obies, Jessies,  Junos, Genies and Geminis,  and all the Idol and Reality shows.  Being a Survivor, that is, a writer with a few connections I am usually invited to most of the local occasions at which we all smile and applaud and congratulate the winners. I don't know if other writers feel this way but I am completely humbled.  I smile and smile and make nice but it gets a little harder every year. No, that's not true.   It was actually easier this year because I am so old. I am out of the competition, as if there was ever any question of competing  Not only am I invisible but I am also disposable, forgettable and insignificant.  As time goes on, I can afford to be generous because none of it has anything to do with me.  I still believe in writers and writing. I declare with Voltaire (1694-1778, French writer, historian philosopher, wit),  all writers' right to write, though I may not agree with what they say.   As the years go by there are more and more fresh writers ready to kill or be killed (like The Hunger Games) and I know fewer and fewer of them, so it is easy to be generous and affable.  I think of what Gore Vidal (1925-2012,  American writer, playwright, screenwriter, novelist, essayist, wit)) said, "Whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies."  So what if they're not friends, the new crop?   It's easier.  Perhaps it's only friends who can be rivals, or even enemies?  I think of Clive James (1939, still alive as far as I know, Australian writer, poet, broadcaster, critic, memoirist, wit) who summed it up for me, this niggling worm inside:

The book of my enemy has been remaindered

And I rejoice.