Entitlement Issues

Today I was pleased to discover that the amazing fiction writer, Mr Neil Gaiman, has his own online blog (I guess an offline blog would be pretty useless, wouldn’t it?). It’s at journal.neilgaiman.com for anyone who’s interested. For those who aren’t, read ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’. A children’s book for adults is a way I’ve heard it described, but it hardly does it justice. I pretty much inhaled the book one weekend, rarely coming out of the story for food, sunshine, or human interaction…

The title of one of his recent blog posts stood out to me. “Entitlement Issues”. It’s one of my pet peeves, people taking for granted what they’ve got and expecting life to be served up to them on a platter. It bothers me far more than it should – because what a strange thing to let take any portion of my energy – feeling annoyed by someone’s less than lovely attitude. But it’s just one of those things that triggers me, may do for the rest of my life – who knows.

A lot of people do it in workplaces, feeling as though they are doing a favour to their bosses rather than being willing to see that the reverse is also true – the boss is helping keep a roof over your head. Don’t act as though you’re so hard done by having to show up to work and let him or her pay you. At least use normal manners at work and pretend to be a nice person. Well, those are my thoughts anyway.

But back to Neil. He received the following letter from someone writing to him about his opinion of another writer’s behaviour.

Hi Neil,

I’ve recently subscribed to George RR Martin’s blog (http://grrm.livejournal.com/) in the hopes of getting some inside information regarding when the next “Song of Ice and Fire” book is due to be released. I love the series but since subscribing to the blog I’ve become increasingly frustrated with Martin’s lack of communication on the next novel’s publication date. In fact, it’s almost as though he is doing everything in his power to avoid working on his latest novel. Which poses a few questions:

1. With blogs and twitter and other forms of social media do you think the audience has too much input when it comes to scrutinising the actions of an artist? If you had announced a new book two years ago and were yet to deliver do you think avoiding the topic on your blog would lead readers to believe you were being “slack”? By blogging about your work and life do you have more of a responsibility to deliver on your commitments?

2. When writing a series of books, like Martin is with “A Song of Ice and Fire” what responsibility does he have to finish the story? Is it unrealistic to think that by not writing the next chapter Martin is letting me down, even though if and when the book gets written is completely up to him?

Would be very interested in your insight.


An extract of Neil’s reply is as follows:

My opinion….

1) No.

2) Yes, it’s unrealistic of you to think George is “letting you down”.

Look, this may not be palatable, Gareth, and I keep trying to come up with a better way to put it, but the simplicity of things, at least from my perspective is this:

George R.R. Martin is not your bitch.

This is a useful thing to know, perhaps a useful thing to point out when you find yourself thinking that possibly George is, indeed, your bitch, and should be out there typing what you want to read right now.

Neil continues on with various and often witty examples of why George RR Martin owes his fans – including Gareth – absolutely nothing.

Sometimes, and it’s as true of authors as it is of readers, you have a life. People in your world get sick or die. You fall in love, or out of love. You move house. Your aunt comes to stay. You agreed to give a talk half-way around the world five years ago, and suddenly you realise that that talk is due now. Your last book comes out and the critics vociferously hated it and now you simply don’t feel like writing another. Your cat learns to levitate and the matter must be properly documented and investigated. There are deer in the apple orchard. A thunderstorm fries your hard disk and fries the backup drive as well…

Whatever the reason, it was a great reminder about ditching the entitled attitude. I’m reading Brené Brown’s latest book at the moment (Millsy’s Musings material for another day, I’m sure). She doesn’t write fiction like Gaiman, her books are more self-helpy and research-based. But I’ll end with her words, which sum things up quite nicely.

“What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude.”


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