Last week I wrote:
Anyone who writes a serious book with the expectation of making a lot of money and/or becoming famous is a fool. If you can’t afford to write a book in your spare time for its own sake, you’re in the wrong business.
To which a reader with a good memory promptly replied:
Your comments today on the book business seem right on. But wasn’t it one of your heroes who said “Only a blockhead writes for anything but money”? I confess I don’t know the context of that remark, but always found it amusing. I would be curious to see your response to the good doc in your blog.
Far be it from me to differ with Samuel Johnson, so I won’t. I’ll simply supply the context of this famous saying, which comes from Boswell’s Life of Johnson:
When I expressed an earnest wish for his remarks on Italy, he said,
“I do not see that I could make a book upon Italy; yet I should be
glad to get two hundred pounds, or five hundred pounds, by such a
work.” This shewed both that a journal of his Tour upon the
Continent was not wholly out of his contemplation, and that he
uniformly adhered to that strange opinion, which his indolent
disposition made him utter: “No man but a blockhead ever wrote,
except for money.” Numerous instances to refute this will occur to
all who are versed in the history of literature.
Since Dr. Johnson is always right, I can but yield to his greater wisdom. The only defense I can offer is that I didn’t say “money,” I said “a lot of money.” But that’s pretty lame, right? Right.
Never let it be said that I’m unwilling to publicly admit to having been caught blogging with my pajama pants down!