Oh hey, this is new. I’ve never worried about the ego in a story before.
I wrote a short story partly to challenge myself, to try different things with narrative and words. It’s what the story demanded but also something I know will make me a better writer—make me more the writer I want to be.
But as I was about to hand it off, to let other eyes read it and give me honest critique, I suddenly felt paralyzed with the fear that it’s too affected. Too self-aggrandizing. That my experimentation feels flat and reads with the sort of hollowness that makes people roll their eyes and turn away. Reads as fake. What if they think this story is an exercise in overinflated ego? Maybe I shouldn’t give this to them, after all…
The idea that ego = bad is the sort of bullshit hardwired into me through societal expectations for women and early religious lessons hammering on pride and self-love as the root of great evil. (When I was ten and my dad asked me if I loved myself and I was mortified because no, of course not, and what had I done to make him think I was that bad of a kid…it took me so long to learn how messed up that was.) BULL. SHIT.
(I wonder if this fear is a universal experience or just reserved for those of us told not to be cocky, not to show off. Those for whom acting cocky and showing off were met with punishment, criticism, disdain. So often I saw my sister, only one year older than me, get accused of showing off, of being a know-it-all when all she was doing was trying to share her knowledge and enthusiasm. I hate that I was taught that geeking out was bad. That I was taught to judge her for it.)
Anyway, this story has a happy ending: I submitted it and the group gave me amazing feedback. The things I most worried about getting right? They came across the way I hoped they would. Things need fixing, of course—it’s barely a second draft—but this is the first time I’ve had so clear an idea what I want a story to be AND been able to hit the mark.
So take that, ego fears! I’m not about to stop experimenting and challenging myself; I can’t wait to figure out where my stories go from here!
***This is my first post here in a long time! Like all the others I’ve been sharing, it first appeared on my Patreon. If you want to see these posts early, catch sneak peaks of my current projects, or be the first to catch my writing news, come find me there!***