Writer’s ego: success

ego

I’m really not falling off of the blog-wagon, just too busy to mash together any ideas longer than 140 characters. Anyhow, I did have a thought the other day that I want to share, although it’s a rather incomplete thought. What came across my mind is the product of a challenging month, both positive and negative. It’s about success. Success comes in two parts:

1: convincing yourself and others you can do something,
2: proving it.

Before I go much further, I want to point out that I don’t consider myself a particularly successful person. No doubt I’ll be called out on this one, because I’ve done alright, but I’m really not where I want to be, and I fail badly at #1.

It’s one thing to sit in an interview and wax poetic about your skills and abilities, and perhaps even be convincing enough to satisfy the hiring manager(s) that you are, in fact, all that and more. This is well and good, but it’s only part of the story. Once you walk into that new job or contract, the clock starts ticking to prove yourself. I’ve hired a lot of people. Some try too hard to prove themselves and miss the mark, after all they were hired for a particular task. I’ve hired others who come in, identify the needs and push to excel in meeting those, and I have absolutely hired people that have come in and upon being hired feel there isn’t any need to prove themselves, or only give it a token effort.

I think it’s the same with writing, well any craft really. An amazing sales pitch might sell lots of books, but what’s that worth if the story stinks? Conversely, I could write an amazing story with fabulous commercial potential, but if I can’t make the sales pitch, nobody will ever know. Both of these things need to happen. As much as I’d like to be a professional, full-time writer, I recognize I’m chasing a dream. I’m fine with that, but I would like people to read and enjoy my story.

I could sit here and blog all day long about how well I write, maybe convince a few folks that I can tell one hell of a story. However, without a damn good story to stand behind, what does it even mean? What does it mean if I’ve written an excellent story and haven’t been able to convince anyone they should take a look at it?

I have no idea.

I don’t really know where I was going with that. Perhaps I just want to make the point that this is something I struggle* with.


 

* Beat myself up.

Writer’s ego and perfectionism

ego

“You’re a writer, surely you can find a better adjective.”

That came from my wife last week. I probably could have come up with a better adjective. What I couldn’t do though, and this still bothers me for some reason, was identify with that label.

Writer.

To me, writer, implies a level of professionalism and accomplishment, at least as far my own work is concerned. It’s not that I object to anyone who can identify themselves with that label. In fact, I wish I could bring myself to say: Hello, I’m a writer. I’m just not there yet. I don’t have anything in a state where I could justify it.

I feel like this is a symptom of “writer’s ego.” (No, I can’t call myself a writer, but I totally have one of these.) It’s the same thing that makes me kick and scream like a spoiled child when I get feedback explaining that something isn’t working. It’s also the same thing driving me on -that little voice saying “this project is a serious, professional piece of work, and it will launch my professional writing career.”

Normally, the screaming child part of me eventually shuts up so that I can fix what’s wrong, and the part of me fantasizing about being a professional writer becomes humble so I can focus on improvement. However, this identification thing is causing a problem. On one hand, who cares about being labeled a writer, if you enjoy doing it, then it doesn’t matter what you’re called. Well, I suppose I do care, and I care because a failure to associate with the label is a symptom of not taking myself seriously.

I may be a bit of a slob, but when it comes to crafting, I’m a perfectionist. When I set out to do something, it is NOT half-assed. My wife will attest to this character flaw. Case in point:

Electric bass

Homemade electric bass

Except for the neck, and electronics, I designed and made this. It is my second attempt at making a musical instrument, the first was from a kit. I am not a luthier, nor am I a particularly fine woodworker, but this thing sounds pimp, and I am still completely unsatisfied with it. That said, I’m not going to go into the odd details I hate that no one will ever notice.

I spend at least an hour a night writing, and many more hours discussing plot, characters, setting, and so on with my wife and anyone else who’s foolish enough to listen. On those days I commute to work, much of that drive is spent thinking about my story. Not only that, when I get to a bit of story containing details I’m unfamiliar with, I start researching. On one occasion, I was at the table with a bit of string and my map. “What the hell are you doing there?” My wife asked. It was pretty obvious to me. I was doing a rough measurement of a road to make sure the the distances and travel times I had were plausible.

So, with all of that effort, shouldn’t I be taking myself seriously? After all, I want others to. If I write my book and publish it, it’ll be hard to convince folks it’s a good read, if I haven’t even convinced myself. Just one more thing to work on I suppose.


photo credit for header photo: ego via photopin (license)