At the intersection of writing and narcissism, this article in The New Yorker (though excellent and compelling and important) nauseated me – and for good reason. The title of the piece, Seduce the Whole World: Gordon Lish’s Workshop, written by Carla Blumenkranz,
is a must-read for any writer, any artist, any student who puts their trust in a professor who really cannot – should not -be trusted.
I have known such “teachers.”
I once took writing class up in LA. I was in my early 20s. The teacher was intimidating yet seductive. It was clear that he bestowed “specialness” on certain students. He would insult one writer’s work (we had to read aloud), make faces in the class, then turn to another student who “might show the class how it’s supposed to be done.” Or he’d read his own work and go on and on about how great it was.
This “teacher” made writing seem like something only a few – himself included – could grasp. It turned out the writers whose work he “liked” were people who had taken his class for years – writing groupies. He fed off them because he was a parasite. (And they thought he actually liked them.)
I understand all that today. Back then I was too young to know what was going on and didn’t make it to the end of the course. Self- preservation kicked in.
Maybe today self-preservation will kick in for you, too.