Young wine writers: don't be too smart

One thing I have noticed, coming into wine writing from the outside, is that there’s generally a warm welcome for newcomers. Established wine writers are, in my experience, generally quite encouraging to newer, emerging voices. Up to a point. While there’s an enthusiasm for fresh faces, there’s also a reluctance to give up further slices of a diminishing cake to others.

My experience is that when I was starting out, everyone was totally charming and helpful, up to the point that they began to see me as competition, in some small way. It’s only understandable.

So my advice for young wine writers is don’t be too smart. If you come out of the hatches at full pelt, you’ll scare the established people whose help can be very useful at the beginning of your career. So there’s a balancing act. Be smart enough to get the gigs you need, but not too smart that you miss out on useful patronage.

It’s a bit like the situation with big corporations. Often, the people who rise through the ranks are the safe choices. Dependable, likeable, but limited. Insecure bosses don’t really want to promote people smarter than they are. It’s a problem. As Caesar remarked to Antony in Shakespear’s play, he wasn’t too keen on Cassius, who he regarded as lean and hungry. He’d rather have fat, satisfied, less disciplined people around him – they’d be less likely to cause trouble.

Generally, in life, I reckon that less smart people are often happier. If you are too smart, I suspect that you’d find popular culture so inane as to be depressing, you’d be frustrated by the general low level of most journalism, and you’d spend a lot of the time quite bored. And as a writer you’d find that anything you wrote would only really appeal to small segment of the population.

2 comments to Young wine writers: don’t be too smart

  • Chris Williams

    As is so often the case, Ernest Hemingway had two very true things to say on this matter:

    There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow men. True nobility lies in being superior to your former self.
    Ernest Hemingway

    and

    Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.
    Ernest Hemingway

  • Haha! I love this. The more you know, the more you know you don’t know. Surface smart… but not wise, maybe? Thanks for the insight :)

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