February 28th, 2006
Hubris

It takes a lot of ego, or maybe a wish for self-destruction, to write, paint, produce movies, sculpt or do anything artistic and expect people to actually pay money to own, read or watch it.

I mean, think about it. Essentially a writer sifts through their subconscious, mining away, until they think they have a hunk of precious something-or-other they can polish until it’s shiny enough to be desirable to someone else.

Craft definitely comes into play with writing. You know, the whole process a writer goes through to make that hunk conform to certain genre expectations, certain editorial guidelines. I know your ass just puckered at the word “conform,” but we all do it to some extent. Still, that original hunk was pulled up from the muck of our subconscious. The craft part is just the polish.

So, here we are, thinking that this junk we mined from our brains is *valuable* in some way. That people will acually spend *money* for it. Maybe even most impossibly, that they will actually spend *time* engaging with the hunk in some meaningful way.

That takes hubris on the part of the author. Or, perhaps, a will for self-destruction.

Why do I say self-destruction? Because the hunk comes from us. Then we send it out into the big, bad world to be praised…or shat upon. (Woo! I got to write “shat upon” today!) That’s just a part of being a writer, of course. You can’t have thin skin to be a writer. Well, you CAN, but isn’t much fun.

Ever since I can remember I wrote because I love the way words look, feel and sound. Especially the way certain words look, feel and sound when strung together in a certain way. My love for reading and writing sprang originally not from a love of character or story, but for the love of the language.

After I sold my first book and got feedback on it I suffered writer’s block for about 3 months. I couldn’t believe people had actually PAID money to read something I’D written. I was shocked. I was also terrified I’d never be able to do it again. Maybe my next book would completely suck. All of sudden, I felt pressured.

Which, of course, I realize now was the height of hubris. I write my books and send them out. The reader judges them. Some books hit people one way, another book hit people a different way. There’s no telling how the book will be received. There’s too many elements in play to make an adequate prediction for that.

So, I got over myself and now I just write. These days I write for the love of story, character and language (oh, and sex. Can’t forget the sex.) and I only hope that people out there will enjoy the end product.

But I still think I must have a lot of gall to think people will actually want to buy and read the polished hunks of muck from my subconscious.

2 comments to “Hubris”

  1. I absolutely loathe writing a synopsis. I always struggle with it.

    There’s nothing guaranteed to make me procrastinate as much as the thought of writing one of those dreaded things. I have yet to figure out why I find it so hard to summarize something I wrote.


  2. *banging my head against the desk* Yeah, me too.