October 24

Literature is an occupation in which you have to keep proving your talent to people who have none.

- Jules Renard

What is a writer but a schmuck with an Underwood?

- Jack Warner

In the face of attitudes like Mr Warner's, is it any wonder that writers are notorious for being arrogant and contemptuous of those sniveling philistines who have the audacity to underappreciate their work? Thank goodness for attitudes like that of George Bernard Shaw, who once said: "I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation."

Of course there are times when even Shavian bluster can't keep the blues away from a writer. When that happens, heed the words of Doris Lessing, who once wrote:

And it does no harm to repeat, as often as you can, "Without me the literary industry would not exist: the publishers, the agents, the sub-agents, the sub-sub-agents, the accountants, the libel lawyers, the departments of literature, the professors, the theses, the books of criticism, the reviewers, the book pages - all this vast and proliferating edifice is because of this small, patronized, put-down and underpaid person."