Today, I'm delighted to host a guest post by Mary Elizabeth, half of the wonder-duo who wrote the online phenomenon Dusty. It will be released as a novel in July.
Egos and Other Preconceived Absurdities
Ego [ee-goh, eh-o] — the “I” or self of any person; a person as thinking, feeling, and willing, and distinguishing itself from the selves of others and from objects of its thought.
Pride [prahyd] — a high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.
I can see how EGO and PRIDE are easily confused; their definitions according to Webster’s Online Dictionary are nearly identical. But, they most definitely mean two different things.
Ego, a lot like the self-proclaimed “lyrical wordsmith” in the first GIF, comes from an ugly place. Mr. West monetarily gains by making other people feel less than him and suggesting he is better than God. His type of narcissism is enough to make anyone throw up in their mouth a little.
But I can compare the subject in the second GIF, Dumbo, to the hundreds of authors I see on social media everyday expressing vocally how pleased they are by their accomplishments. As they should be, rightfully.
(Because I’m a writer, I’ll stick to tale-telling as example.)
We authors spend hours upon hours with our faces pressed to our computers, ignoring our families, overlooking hygiene, giving an outlet to the voices in our head while the dirty laundry piles up. Some of us have day jobs, and some of us have day and night jobs. A lot of my fellow authors are college students, while some are sending their children off to college.
We’re damn proud when we type THE END at the end of a book.
We should be able to scream it to the world like crazy people.
So, when did that become a crime?
along the lines—maybe because of social media, maybe because of the influx of writers, thanks to self-publishing, or maybe because people are intimidated by confidence—ego and pride became the same wrong.
My first book Innocents (Dusty #1) isn't due to publish until 7/14/14, but I've written for quite a few years as a member of the Twilight Fan Fiction Fandom. By experience, I can contest that there might not be a tougher crowed to please than our mighty community. Twi-FF readers know what they like and don’t like and have no problem letting you know.
I learned what I know about telling a story from the fandom. Their praise and criticism molded me into the person I am right now. Justly, it’s been an up and down roller coaster, but I think I’m finally on flat rails. I’m comfortable with who I am, and I’m proud of my work. I no longer feel the need to defend it.
When the online version of Dusty ended, I was in a bad place.
I was the Kanye West of the Twilight FF community.
I can own that.
After some major backlash, and after making some major changes in my life, I fixed my defensive attitude.
It’s been quite a while since I've had someone comment on my “ego”. Which is why I was confused when it came out of nowhere a few weeks ago. Instead of reacting like I used to, I simply assessed the situation and came to the conclusion that the rude commenter has not reached the inner peace within themselves like I have.
And really, they were purposefully rude.
But, it got me thinking.
Jump on to Facebook right now, and I can guarantee you’ll scroll across a thread where someone is being impolite, purposely or not. Most of the time they start with something like, “If you don’t want to read my rant, keep moving.” Or “Rant alert!”
More times than not, I stop to see what the drama is about.
The ones that make me roll my eyes are the ever-present, “Stop adding me to groups without my permission,” and “I don’t play Candy Crush!”
But here is where ego and pride can be confused.
“Don’t ask me to like your page, because you have to earn my friendship first.”
Do they? Because, is it just me or should you be really glad that someone even invited you to like their page in the first place? Chances are, that person liked your page first and you’re not ranting about that.
And you never know, that brand new author you just blasted all over Facebook might be the next big thing. Or maybe they got into writing because you inspired them but were too shy to ever talk to you before. Maybe they don’t know the etiquette of the indie community and did what they thought was right. How embarrassing for him or her that you just screamed at them instead of simply messaging that person and saying, “This is how you do it in the future.”
Or, I don’t know. Why not just ignore them?
When I see authors publicly scolding someone on a public forum, my first thought is, who do they think they are?
Is it ego or pride that leads you to write a post chastising someone else?
Authors have a role as a public figure: writing.
It is absolutely not your job to ever shine a bad light on another author or the people that read your stories.
I’m a writer, and I know how it feels to be misunderstood.
Dusty and everything else I’ve written has received its fair share of awful reviews and critiques. When the online version completed and #Dusty trended on Twitter, I said something like, “Dusty changed fan fiction.”
Translation, according to a few of not-so-friendly-followers: “I’m better than you.”
Then the comments flowed into my feed.
“Who do you think you are?”
“Can you see past your ego?”
“Your story is crap and you’re a conceited BNA”
(For those not in a fandom, BNA is an acronym for Big Named Author.)
I already admitted I may have been a little ahead of myself, but my fan fiction trended on Twitter! I was beyond proud! There was no malice in my statement, and my intentions were not to make anyone feel less than me. My effing fan fiction trended on Twitter!
Now that I’m an active member of the indie-author community, misconception of egos is another thing I see pretty often, and it kills me.
Authors, be proud of your accomplishments. Never be afraid of backlash because others are threatened by your success. There’s nothing wrong with posting your Amazon rank or freaking out when another writer you look up to reads your book.
Not everyone is going to love your work, and they don’t have to, but you accomplished something! It has nothing to do with ego, but firm pride. Just like it’s not your place to correct the people who misread your writing, it’s not your place to correct anyone who doesn't understand how brilliant you are for finishing a book.
And you are brilliant.