Wilfrid Sheed

“At first, the artists were real and the writers tended to be make believe. But real artists don’t grow on trees, and gradually the word loosed from its moorings.  After all, everything one does short of breathing can be an art if you do it right. And for a while the writers scoffed as they lost every year to some of the most dubious artists who never picked up a brush. Although writers really do grow on trees, rich writers don’t. So as local prices rose to the moon, that word came loose too, to apply to anyone who has ever signed a cheque, or knows someone who has. And the cult of celebrity has added new possibilities. Acting is obviously an art, but does forgetting your lines and making up new ones or signing a ghost written memoir count as writing? Nobody is under oath to any of this. If you’ve always wanted to be a writer, step right up. The one thing you cannot be, because it would ruin the game, is a real ballplayer. Otherwise it comes down to winning the definitions every year and mastering the highly verbal, but not real art of persuading this year’s crop of hot dogs that they really do have an eye for detail or a way with words.”