Whoops! So, small confession: I’m on vacation…and that weird vacation-brain where you forget what day and time it is totally sneaked up on me quickly. Even though my husband went to work yesterday and I knew I had a Monday writing group meeting…something about yesterday didn’t feel like a Monday and I totally flaked on finishing up and posting a blog post.
Which sort of worked out, because at last night’s writer’s meeting I had an iced mocha latte, therefore I had a lot of time to lie awake last night and rethink everything I wanted to say today, er yesterday. Whatever, you know what I mean.
Let’s talk about pride. You can have too little and you can have too much. How do we find that happy place somewhere in the middle? (Get your mind out of the gutter.)
Pride ≠ Shameful
Ha. Just typing that heading made me laugh because, well, definitions. But, being proud of your work shouldn’t be shameful.
I think there’s this belief out there, and I think this because I’ve seen it, that authors—especially indie authors—aren’t supposed to be proud of our work.
An indie author doesn’t have a gatekeeper telling them yes, your work is worthy, nor someone saying no, your work isn’t worthy. [Except reviewers, of course.] Therefore, in the eyes of some, our work is diminished in comparison to someone who is traditionally published.
I am guilty of feeling I should apologize for my work. Hey, sorry, you’re probably not going to like it, I mean I hope you do…but mostly I have one or two nice sentences and then it all goes to hell. But, thanks for reading, I guess.
Boy, what a marketing strategy! Why is it that creative/entertainment industry-folk have this desire to both sell their work and simultaneously believe it isn’t worth someone’s time or money? Seriously, what would it look like if other industries made the same apologies right out of the gate? Imagine trying to choose between these restaurants:
Okay, honestly, I had a lot of fun making those. But, if those posters were hanging in the windows of the restaurants in your town…wouldn’t you go to the next town over for dinner? I know I would.
So, then, why if someone asks me about my work do I have the knee-jerk reaction to pepper in so many apologies? Am I hoping they think to themselves surely it can’t be that bad…maybe I’ll buy the book just to see if it really is that bad. Because that’s horrible.
I’m not saying I’ll ever be the type of author who goes around saying: If you read my books, they will literally change your life.
Haha, no. No, you won’t catch me saying that. But I’m going to cut out that apologetic BS. There’s nothing wrong with being proud of what you produce. Hopefully, if you aren’t proud of it you aren’t putting it out there for the world’s consumption. So, why pretend you aren’t proud?
But, be wary of letting your pride take on a life of its own.
Pride vs. Boastful
There’s a difference, I think. And every once in a while, boasting about something isn’t necessarily bad. But, if that’s all you do…it’s annoying and we all want you to stop.
If you submit your book to a competition and it wins, we all want to celebrate with you for a little while and then we kinda need you to bring it down a notch. Don’t get me wrong, we’re happy for you. But we aren’t your mama or your spouse…we will celebrate and move on. You’ve got to write your next best-selling-prize-worthy-masterpiece and we’ve got to get back to our
mediocre words, too.
But then there’s this other breed of boasting…and it’s annoying all the time. All. Of. The. Time. Without naming names, allow me to consolidate what was said in my presence recently. (though, not directed to me.)
This sort of boasting is done with the intention of putting others down…and it’s not cool. In the writing community, especially the indie community, shouldn’t we want to help others? I mean, I get that time constraints and the demands of our own work prevent us from helping everyone else all the time—and that’s fine. But…playing the “I’m better than you” card is such a turn-off.
If you’re absolutely sure you’re comfortable with burning bridges, then hey, guy, you do you. But, inevitably, when you come across someone who blows you out of the water…you just sit tight while you’re being passed over like dry rice at Thanksgiving.
And with this level of pride, you’d better be able to prove yourself. Not just once, not just twice, but consistently. The higher up you build yourself, the harder and less graceful the fall will be. So, maybe don’t be a jerk.
On the other end of this boastful spectrum are people who for whatever reason feel they’re above everyone else, therefore they need no help…and they really sorta, kinda, very much do. I’m not sure where this particular flavor of pride/boastfulness comes from, because, hell, even Stephen King has an editor.
The good news for this particular sufferer is that they’ve likely burned all their bridges and no one wants to help them anyway.
Pride in Others
One of the first examples of this that sprang to mind was Jewel E. Leonard inviting other authors to guest-post on her blog as a pre-celebration of her new release(s).
Sometimes I think there’s this thought process that if you show pride in someone else’s work that it’ll take the shine off of your own…but that’s not really true at all. Take a look at small businesses. It won’t be a perfect analogy, but hopefully you’ll get the idea.
Of course it isn’t in the best interest of a mom and pop burger joint to recommend McDonald’s…but I have been in a mom and pop burger joint (while on vacation) who was happy to recommend a mom and pop Italian place. Why would they do this? Because they want other small businesses to thrive. I’ve never been in a small restaurant like Uncle Ted’s BBQ and heard them recommend an Olive Garden.
Maybe a better analogy would be the last time I was in one of the locally-owned bookstores around here and a customer asked the proprietor if she had a certain book in stock. They didn’t, but they did offer to call another locally-owned bookstore and inquire there on the customer’s behalf. Then to my shock she raved about something new that store was trying.
One book store took pride in another book store? Surely I jest.
Then the patron decided to purchase something else anyway. It’s as if shop owner A made a good impression or something.
So, if you find an author who has written something swoon-worthy, let others know. Be proud of your writing friends’ accomplishments. If someone needs a little help, and you’re qualified and have the time to give it…give it. If you aren’t proud of your community, be the change it needs. Check your boastfulness at the door, strap on your boots, and get to work.
Pride isn’t really that hard to navigate: Have it and spread it around.
Thanks for tuning in on a Tuesday! GAH! I’m so suffering from vacation-brain. Have a great week, ya’ll!