Cut out from a long post on leaving academia and deciding not to be a freelance writer,* best left uncompleted:
This is probably also a decent time to mention my belief that the
reason we should divorce judgments of personal behavior from quality of
work produced in aesthetic and academic realms is that success appears
to correspond to developing unattractive personal qualities. Not that
regular people are likely to withstand scrutiny, either--I'm Reformed
for a reason--but success requires a kind of Look Out For Number One approach
that is not compatible with being an entirely ethical person. You can
make your peace with it, and many do, or sacrifice a few rungs of
success for being more noticeably a good person, but "everyone is smart,
distinguish yourself by being kind" is one of those statements (like "only the even-numbered Star Trek movies are good") that carries its own insult: you can distinguish yourself by being kind because most people are not.
*I have a lot of thoughts on What's Wrong With Academia, which can be perhaps best summarized by the list of "demeaning things that have happened to me at various positions" that I keep mostly for its humor value (the accidental items are, in their own way, worse than the intentional ones). But I'm not sharing that. The short version of not freelance writing is that I could never see a way to make money from it in anything like the short term, and it seemed to involve compromising on certain important features of my interior personal life, such as 'not having to have a take on everything that happens.'