Greetings, dear readers!
This month’s column addresses
someone who seems to be experiencing the well-known yet rarely treated
malady AGD—Artistic Grandiosity Disorder.
Dear Dr. Jim,
I’m not sure I should even be writing to you; goodness knows I have
more important things to do. But at the insistent urgings of my family
and friends (all of whom seem somewhat delusional lately), I am taking
a very few minutes of my precious time to contact you.
Ever since I was a very young child, I have known I would be a great
writer. From my earliest school papers it should have been apparent to
everyone—teachers, parents, peers—that I certainly had “the gift” and
was destined for literary greatness. Alas, this was not always the
case; often, people seemed less than dazzled by my work! Clearly, much
of this was explainable; petty jealousy, for one thing, often seemed to
raise its ugly head whenever I was asked to read my work aloud in
elementary, middle, and high school . . . even college. Oh, believe me,
as a master observer of human nature and all its subtle behavioral
nuances, I noticed! Eyes glazed over (no doubt from a dawning
realization of their own literary inferiority) and bodies shifted with
growing discomfort. Even teachers (probably frustrated and
often-rejected writers themselves!) resented me to the point of giving
my work lower marks than deserved. Did this sting? Yes. It stung. But I
did not waver from my appointed destiny.
And yet, even now, all these years later, trapped in this morbidly
post-literate society, the envy of others continues to haunt me.
Manuscript after brilliant manuscript is rejected . . . and the cowards
hiding in their ivory towers don’t have the decency to send me personal
letters of explanation!
Please help me, Dr. Jim. Answer me these questions: How can a true
artist survive in this artless age? How does someone with my gifts
overcome the ignorance of the howling masses? And, while you’re at it .
. . would you mind taking a look at one of my not-yet-published novels?
I’ve attached a manuscript with this e-mail.
First: Sorry, friend, but at
times we therapists have to practice a bit of “Tough Love.” Get a grip,
Penworthy. You are blinded by your own “light!” Clearly, you have for
your entire life been suffering from AGD—Artistic Grandiosity Disorder.
from this disorder cannot see
their own limitations
and have great difficulty facing the truth about themselves and their
work. I suggest you immediately seek professional therapy with someone
who can help you come to terms with your runaway, narcissistic pride
and accompanying delusions of grandeur. I do not wish to sound harsh,
friend, but I would be doing you no favors to enable such delusional
thinking and behavior.
Second: I’ve read your
manuscript, and I can tell you in all honesty that your work is at best
mediocre. Compared to other work I’ve read (my own, for instance), I
find yours both clichéd and vapid. It would be best if you immediately
stopped sending out manuscripts, because you seem unusually sensitive
to criticism. It takes a tough shell (like mine) to withstand
rejection. It has taken me a number of years to discover the truth
about my own work (i.e., those who like it are geniuses, and those who
don’t are morons) and to develop the thick-skinned resilience that now
protects me from a world filled with unappreciative wannabes.
Until you can come to grips with
your own limitations, I suggest you take up a different profession
(which will leave more room for those of us predestined for literary
I hope this helps.
I’m Dr. Jim . . . and I’m
When not writing this column,
Jim can be found compulsively overworking at
www.ProdigalSong.com and www.jameserobinson.com.