Dr. Jim

James E. Robinson is a professional songwriter, musician, author, counselor, and speaker. His songs have been recorded by major artists in country, Christian, and rock music and he has recorded three CD's of his own. He and his wife are co-founders of ProdigalSong Ministries [www.ProdigalSong.com], combining music, speaking, and education workshop presentations, they travel and perform in churches, treatment centers, schools, and correctional facilities throughout the country.


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.

Harley Penworthy

Dear H.P.,

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. People suffering

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 greatness).

I hope this helps.

I’m Dr. Jim . . . and I’m listening!

When not writing this column, Jim can be found compulsively overworking at www.ProdigalSong.com and www.jameserobinson.com.

The Flower of Grass