It’s a fact. If I didn’t have a big, shiny ego–big enough and shiny enough to withstand rejection, ridicule, and low-star reviews–I would no longer be in this game.
To a certain extent, I feed my ego with coffee, exercise, and just putting in the work. Whether I’m hitting my word count goal, or just scraping a hundred or so words into the manuscript at the end of a long day, it’s work. And that work has been accepted for publication a few times by people who aren’t related to me and don’t owe me money. And that has helped secure the old ego against some of the buffets of trying to be an indie author in a world where less people are reading, and those who do are willing to pay less and less for what they read.
On the other hand, I have just enough ego to know when something I’m doing is not up to par. This comes with doing something long enough to know what I’m capable of, long enough to know what “right” looks like. And lately, I’ve had a few moments of self-clarity.
It’s like a project I recently completed–a knitted pouch using colorwork and small needles that would have been unthinkable for me to attempt less than a year ago. Why am I not satisfied with it? Because I know what I am capable of, and even though I will still give this as a gift, and even though I know it’s acceptable work, I still look at it and see so many flaws. A skipped stitch. A design flaw. A better way to organize the colors.
My sister sent me a draft of a story she’s working on. I opened it. Read it. It’s fucking brilliant. I take a good, long look at it, and think–why does she refuse to submit her work for publication? Why am I feeling insecure? Probably because I recognize what is really good, and her stuff is really good.
Back to the ego. Time for me to remember that ego can slap you in the face, tell you to get ahold of yourself and drink some coffee and go back to putting words on the paper. Other people’s awesome stuff is just that–theirs. And the only way I’ll get back to find the place where I can look at what I’ve done and be satisfied is … to do the work.
So, sometimes ego is a hindrance that blinds you and causes you to query before you finish the first draft.
Sometimes ego is a kick in the pants that rolls its eyes and tells you to get back to writing.
And so, I shall.