I was reading a piece about H. P. Lovecraft the other day, which revealed him to be another one of these impoverished-in-life-popular-in-death types. It seems to me that this sort of fellow pops up a lot: In addition to Lovecraft, you’ve got (off the top of my head) Poe, van Gogh, and (more or less) Dick. All these guys had reputations for being a little difficult to deal with, and I wonder if their greater success after their deaths was entirely coincidental.

It seems to me that most men would like to advance their careers, but that not everything they do will have that effect. If we focus for the moment on the issue of working with others (even a solitary writer or artist must deal with publishers or dealers, lawyers, fans, and so on) then we can see that disagreeable behavior will tend to inhibit professional growth, and agreeable behavior to advance it. Perhaps what we see in the lives of these talented men is that sufficiently unpleasant conduct can not only set one’s career back, but that, for some very talented and very difficult people, the best thing they could do for their careers would be nothing at all.

And if affability counted for H. P. Lovecraft, it probably counts for you, too.

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