It's Not About Me! A Morning Epiphany
"All of them, the novelists, the story writers, the poets, desperately long to win. If there is a prize, then there is someone somewhere on earth who desires it. Grown men pace their homes and scheme about ways to win things, and small children hyperventilate over the prospect of gold-plated trophies for penmanship, for swimming, for just being cheerful." (Meg Wolitzer, THE WIFE: A NOVEL)It seems inevitable. I wrote my post celebrating the magic that happens when you dip in the creative pool, and then I get sucked into a whirlpool of worry and doubt a few hours later.
Why do I do this to myself?
It started, I think, when I got an e-mail. You know that excited thrill you get when someone comments on your posts, or a reader contacts you with a personal message ? Well this time that thrill quickly turned into dismay.
Hi. I'd like to unsubscribe from this blog. Thanks.Let's ignore the fact that we are all quite capable of unsubscribing from blogs ourselves. Why, I wonder, did this person have to announce the fact that my blog was unworthy somehow? What did I do wrong? Is my writing so awful? Does my content offend?
It's amazing how nine simple words can plunge you into the abyss.
I don't love it when that happens. Because of course, once you've fallen into the abyss, its difficult to find your way out. One doubt leads you to another and another and another.
By now you are wondering, what does this have to do with an epiphany? Well, I paused in the middle of writing this post to wait for the bus with my daughter.
[caption id="attachment_6754" align="aligncenter" width="584"] The view from the bus stop (aka the bottom of our driveway)[/caption]
As I stood there, watching her play with a little puppet worm while she hummed a song, and the sun glistened off trees still dripping from the downpour overnight, I had a thought.
What if writing wasn't about the writer, but was about joining people together?I've always loved writing. I love the sound and feel of words rolling around my head, through my fingertips, and even off of my tongue. I read almost everything I write out loud, because words need to be heard and felt. An especially wonderful passage in a book I am reading suddenly bursts out of my mouth, even if I'm not alone. Words are about communication and meaning. They are ways of expressing the impossible, just as visual art is a way of expressing the inexpressible.
Yet, the more I delve into the world of writing, the more I make connections with published authors--the more I realize that wordsmiths are people. People with egos. Some more egotistical than others.
I find myself being harsher on the words of authors with big egos. If your ego is huge, if you think you are God's gift to readers everywhere, then your words better transport me somehow. Otherwise, it's time to calm the ego a bit.
It's time to calm my ego. Not that I think my words are ever perfect, but I fall into the trap of comparing myself with others much too often. I know I write well, and when I read a published book that is filled with mediocre writing and terrible prose I get frustrated, especially when they are best sellers. Why can't that be me? I wonder.
I know the answer to that already. I don't write things that will be popular to the masses. I want to write stories and books that make a difference in the world, that have a message, that touch people in some way. I want to write words that communicate, challenge, and make people think. I want to write words that inspire people to read.
But my words aren't for everyone, and that's okay.
It's not about me.
It's about writing.
Does your ego get in your way? How do you calm it?