Making the rounds today, I popped over to JA Konrath's blog where he had a post about pride. Joe always manages to say something interesting. I loved this snippet:
While no one likes a braggart or a boaster, and being around someone who talks about themselves constantly is a major bore, I believe that many writers became writers because of a need to show off. After all, it takes a large ego to write words down on paper and believe that others will not only enjoy them, but pay you for the privilege of reading them.
I'd never quite thought about it that way. Do I have a big ego? Do I write because I want to show off? It's possible, sure. I bet there are a lot of people who will object. Who will say, “No, I write because I love it” or “I write because I can't do anything else” or “I write for me.”
Well, I can't do anything else either. Believe me, I've tried. I don't enjoy the elses and I'd really, really prefer someone pay me to write so I can do it exclusively.
I also write because I love it and I write to entertain myself. But I damn sure want the check and I want other people to read what I write and to want more of it.
It's funny how this post got me to thinking about being a show off. I'm an introvert, like many writers, and yet I absolutely love it when I do something well and someone compliments me on it. I was fiercely competitive in my academic career — not against others, but simply against myself. I had to get the A, had to get the kudos. Life simply would not be complete (I thought) if I didn't make Phi Kappa Phi.
All the A's and honor societies in the world haven't made much of a difference in my post-academic life. But I had to have them.
So now it's writing. I really don't think of myself as having a big ego. I'm pretty easy going. I love it when my CP likes something I've written, though, and I guess there could be a big ol' monster lurking inside who believes that others will too.
Do you think it takes a large ego to write? Or does it take a large ego to want to share the writing? Is one different from the other? It's certainly something to ponder, especially for the introverts who like to stay holed up all day and can't imagine having to get dressed and go network for the sake of their words. Hmmm.
There are some who will say you are not an “artiste” unless you have no need to be acknowledged for your work.
Bullsh*t. I’m not in this for my health. I don’t wish to be revered after I’m dead (although it would be nice)–I’d like some recognitions now, thanks very much.
Not that I have instant gratification needs or anything…
Sheesh, I guess I’m not an artiste then. 😉 I agree it’d be nice to be analyzed, a la Jane Austen, a couple of hundred years from now, but if my choice were that or success now, I think I’d take success now.
Wow, maybe I do have a big ego. I’d just never thought of myself that way before…. 🙂
I am more into the Zen of writing… losing ego as I write.
Success would definitely be nice. 🙂 And there’s nothing like trying to write through a rough spot and being stuck to make you lose ego, even if it’s only temporary. 🙂
I write because I like to disappear into my world of make believe. I get to call the shots there. 🙂 As for the comment you quoted about ego, I think the writer’s logic is flawed. Using his example, we could say the same for all artists and workers. Anybody who does something or creates something and wants to be paid for it must be on an ego trip as well. LOL! Famous Amos, Alexander Graham Bell, Charlotte Brontë, Rachmaninoff, Picasso, Henry Ford, Marie Callender, Einstein, Freud, et al produced/created/made things too hoping to get paid. So did they have gigantic egos? Or is the ego issue a natural product of the human condition? I think the latter. Trust me, writers are no more ego-driven than anyone else.
There might be a thread of truth in Konrath’s premise, but it’s not the up-front, in your face kind of ego. It’s believing that one can do something highly individual and be recognised in some way for it (hopefully with a check). But unlike the true egotist, a writer’s ego is fragile and volatile. He fights for it every day. It dies and is reborn a million times.