There’s an anecdote which I’ve heard attributed to a few different famous authors, including Margaret Atwood, though I read somewhere that she says it didn’t originate with her. It goes like this:
A famous writer is at a party. She’s chatting with a brain surgeon. The brain surgeon, upon hearing who she is, gets excited, and says that when he retires he’s going become a writer. The writer quips snidely, “Oh really? When I retire, I’m going to become a brain surgeon.” The author, here, implies that writing should be left to professionals.
Here’s where I think she gets it wrong. Of course there are activities we wouldn’t ever do without years of formal training and professional licensing, like brain surgery, nuclear-reactor design, and fighter jet piloting, because lives depend on our performance. But there are also activities that many of us do as […]