Writing: the challenge of ego

People who are familiar with recovery terms know the phrase ‘Drop the Rock.’ Surrender, Let Go and Let God, and similar sayings amounting to the same ideology. I translate them to the idea that someone knows better than me, it could be my Higher Power or a five year old, and I could learn something simply by listening. My ego is heavy and it would stead me well not to drag it everywhere I go, especially in my writing.

I read a Facebook post recently to the effect of how we shouldn’t applaud writers or artists because of their backstory. Their product has to be, at the very least, good. Someone else chimed in, shouldn’t they be encouraged like we do for a five year old? I don’t think so.

If my five year old grandson shared a poem or a painting I’d be head over heels enthused. I don’t think it would occur to me to critique it. I’d lavish praise and probably not stop to think whether chartreuse goes with pink. 

When an adult shows me work I go into a very different mode. I do a thorough critique. I’ve been in groups where writers are horrified at any suggestion to change. They believe the work they’ve submitted is the best and cannot be improved. I’ve felt devastated in my earlier writing experiences by suggestions from others. Some I took with a grain of salt and others I worked at painstakingly. I hope the result is that my work improved.

We do a disservice by pretending things are good because we like a person. Wouldn’t you want to know if your hem was in need of repair? A couple of stitches go a long way. My first unpublished novel that stars ‘Daisy Muñiz’ needed lots of work. It wasn’t accepted for publication although my beta readers loved Daisy and the idea of an awkward, curious for life, ‘detective by default’ character. 

I hammered away at creating Nights of Indigo Blue: A Daisy Muñiz Mystery. It’s a ‘cozy mystery’ and not something I envisioned doing in the early days of my writing. With suggestions from others and allowing myself to ‘drop the rock’ a whole new vista emerged before me. 

Like anyone, I gladly receive praise but also take in the sometimes harsh advice of others and like to think my ability to weave a good tale is improving because I do.

Now, drop the rock and get to your creative work. It’s waiting for you.

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