Bookish folk aren’t what they used to be. Introverted, reserved, studious. There was a time when bookish folk would steer clear of trendy bars, dinner occasions and gatherings. Any social or public encounters would be avoided at all costs because these activities were very un-bookish. Bookish people preferred to stay in, or to sit alone in a quiet pub, reading a good book, or getting some writing done. Writers, in fact, perhaps epitomised these bookish traits most strongly. At least, they used to.These days, bookish people, such as writers, are commonly found on stage, headlining festivals, or being interviewed on TV. Author events and performances have proliferated, becoming established parts of a writer’s role. It’s not that authors have suddenly become more extroverted – it’s more a case that their job description has changed. Of course, not all writers are bookish. Not in the traditional sense of the word anyway. Some are well suited for public life, particularly those from certain academic backgrounds where public speaking is encouraged and confidence in social situations is shaped and formed. These writers may even be termed ‘gregarious’ and are thus happy being offered up for speaking engagements, stage discussions and signings. Good for them. But the others – the timid, shy and mousy authors – they’re being thrust into the limelight too. That’s my lot. The social wipeouts. Unprepared and ill-equipped to face our reader audience. What’s most concerning is that no one is offering us any guidance or tips. We’re expected to hit the ground running, confident and ready, loaded with banter, quips and answers. It’s a disaster waiting to happen.
Paul Ewen
the things common to all men are more important than the things peculiar to any men. Ordinary things are more valuable than extraordinary things; nay, they are more extraordinary. Man is something more awful than men; something more strange. The sense of the miracle of humanity itself should be always more vivid to us than any marvels of power, intellect, art, or civilization. The mere man on two legs, as such, should be felt as something more heartbreaking than any music and more startling than any caricature. Death is more tragic even than death by starvation. Having a nose is more comic even than having a Norman nose.This is the first principle of democracy: that the essential things in men are the things they hold in common, not the things they hold separately. And the second principle is merely this: that the political instinct or desire is one of these things which they hold in common. Falling in love is more poetical than dropping into poetry. The democratic contention is that government (helping to rule the tribe) is a thing like falling in love and not a thing like dropping into poetry. It is not something analogous to playing the church organ, painting on vellum, discovering the North Pole (that insidious habit), looping the loop, being Astronomer Royal and so on. For these things we do not wish a man to do at all unless he does them well. It is, on the contrary, a thing analogous to writing one's own love-letters or blowing one's own nose. These things we want a man to do for himself, even if he does them badly.
G.K. Chesterton