Part V: The Dilettante
by Solomon Philbrick

Part V: The Dilettante

Thomas: Simon, you seem even more listless than normal today.

EmilyDickinson.jpgSimon: Thomas, I’m afraid it’s not me. You see, the author is writing this piece on New Year’s Day and is therefore somewhat hung over. That’s why it’s so cloudy outside and our parlor is in disarray.

Thomas: Oh, dear. Why did he not plan better?

Simon: Because he’s an idiot, Thomas. Pure and simple. We could have been having this conversation yesterday or the day before, but the author is always procrastinating and just came home from LA an hour ago with a headache and no shower. So where does that leave two poor fictional characters like ourselves? What is there to talk about when your very creator does not feel like typing?

Thomas: Well, there was that final category of American artist you wished to speak about - the dilettante, I think you called him.

Simon: Oh, yes, the dilettante. My dear Thomas, I do believe that I saved the best category for last.

Thomas: How odd for you, Simon. Well, how do you define this dilettante?

Simon: The dilettante is the least visible and therefore the most tolerable of artists. You probably would not know the dilettante if you saw him. He has a day job and makes little or no money producing his art, yet he keeps producing it without giving much thought to financial or other rewards. He is the man who dies comfortably at the age of ninety-three. When his relatives dig through his possessions, they find several novels, an attic full of paintings or reams of poetry that are not completely dreadful. Although it is rare, the dilettante’s work might wind up in a museum or anthology long after his death.

Wilfred-Owen.jpgThomas: Why does the dilettante do this? It seems like a lot of work for absolutely no reason.

Simon: Honestly, I could not tell you. The dilettante simply has some strange drive that forces him to create. I have no doubt that there are at least a few million dilettantes wandering around America alone. They write poetry but don’t torture others with it at coffee shops, post things on this “Internet” thing I’ve heard about with little chance of any attention, they paint, they draw cartoons in their notebooks, perhaps someone out there is even trying to attempt a piss-poor knockoff of an Oscar Wilde dialogue. They are out there, though, doing their thing and receiving little or nothing in return. Patti Smith once wrote that “this is the era where everybody creates.” Well, that was the seventies and Ms. Smith was a bit bitter. I would prefer to repeat that line as a celebration.

Thomas: So those are your five categories?

Simon: Yes. As with everything they are debatable, but I think I stand on solid ground. Having wrapped this up, the author now must create some new damn content by next week.


Philbrick firmly believes in a lot of work for absolutely no reason. Archives


This was great, I liked it a lot. Now go make some new content.


I think you stand on solid ground, too. Yay writing while hung over!



I think I'm a dilettante.

Can I put that on my resume?


Go right ahead Michele. Put it next to "Time Magazine Person of the Year." Sorry, that one just isn't getting old with me.


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