What I want now is for you to imagine a particular scenario – sure, grab yourself a coffee if you must, it won’t help because there’s no need for props, but please, go ahead.
Are you ready? Fine, so we will begin. Sit back and pay attention.
Imagine you’re a writer and it’s all you’ve ever wanted. Even when you were small you would write, perhaps with a stubby crayon on paper and walls, or with a felt marker on the inside of kitchen cupboards. As you grew, the hunger grew. All you ever wanted was to see your words, your very own beautiful words, in print, or on the screen of a Kindle you just happen to glance at whilst travelling incognito (of course) on the tube into town for lunch with your Publicist, your Publisher and your Personal Wealth Manager. It’s all you ever wanted.
Imagine you’re not just any old writer, but THE writer. Not one of many – ten a penny – but THE literary swashbuckler whose internal warfare is rewarded with universal adulation. THE ONE whose craft, insights and observations; whose bleeding passions, stop other writers in their tracks and make them wonder why they bother. You are the only one in the world to see the lions head in a bath plug hole, a slip of paint (a yellow snake) on the landing windowsill, the only one in the world to observe a myriad miniscule things and weave them, magically, into your uniquely surprising tales. People in their millions queue around the block to be the first to touch, to own your latest gem. A global phenomenon, you’re in film, on television, on the radio; your adoring followers hang themselves from your every utterance.
Now imagine all the other writers in the world, stop writing. One by one they lay their pens to rest, snuff out their computers and bury their notebooks in cupboards. They have nothing to say that you have not already said more exquisitely and eloquently, in the only way it could possibly be written. No doubt they’re happy to bow before such a gifted adversary whose sheer intellect and creativity they can only dream of competing with. Their words are meaningless, in the glare of your brilliance, and it’s dawned on them, one after another, that people have only ever read their work from pity or to sense how the world might have been had your genius not saved them. No, on balance, the only honourable thing to do is give up. And now, you are the only writer in the world.
The only writer in the world, imagine that.
Then imagine if, after a while, your adoring public want to hear only your words on television, on the radio, in films. And imagine your followers only countenance your books in libraries, convenience stores and in shops at railway stations and airports. And a little while after that they decide the inferior works of all other writers, living or dead, must be destroyed.