Prior to these simultaneous manifestations of hostile scribberly forces in the frozen Midwest, 1,300 writers had descended on New Orleans. At least two-thirds of those writers hated two-thirds of the others, and if the math makes no sense, just add alcohol, rivers of it, which writers, more than any other convention group, gulp in streams of run-on sentences. The writers belonged to grouplets and platoons divided by aesthetics, success, sexuality or body weight. At the same time, the major speaker to this snarling mob, who enjoyed a moderate and carefully negotiated esteem, received a scathing review of his latest book in The New York Times, which produced an audible mean snicker in every bar.
So much contention is only possible in a field in which success involves no objective measurement, such as money or physical output. In fact, among writers, anyone with the slightest bit of measurable success is roundly despised. A Washington Post writer and historian decided to climb on the bestseller lists by buying tens of thousands of copies of his own book and then returning them when his numbers shot upward. His contract with his publisher probably included, as many contracts do these days, bonuses for numbers sold. Busted, the writer tried to cast himself as a victim of the book business climate. Others applauded him for exposing that system.
Other writers who become too successful get their comeuppance when spiteful nitpickers discover plagiarized passages in their work. Thus busted, the successful writers blame their assistants who, out of sheer laziness or envy, omit the quotation marks around sizeable stolen chunks. It is quite possible that the stolen chunks themselves were lifted from others in the first place.
It is important to a writer, no matter how esteemed or how successful, to hold the moral high ground in the twisted land of letters. Otherwise, he or she might cease to care, in which case they would be no different than the general public, who read them not.