Thursday, February 04, 2016


I've been in the business of being (and trying to be) a professional writer for several decades. Since I was in my mid-20s. Learning how to write and going about the labor of submitting and selling fiction was a long, slow, painful process. In that time it was both my pleasure and my misfortune to encounter other professional writers. As with people in general, many of those encounters were unpleasant.


It took a long time for me to decipher, but mainly I discovered that most of the writers I met were selfish and mad for themselves.

The act of writing and submitting work is an exercise in egomania. I think that your work is worthy of entertaining and/or enlightening other people...that's a terribly self-centered thing to even contemplate. What are the odds of your being right? Of your work actually being worthy of having been seen, of amusing the reader in a positive way, or educating another person or sparking them to think about things with a new form of insight? To just think of putting your work out among the great readership is to be egotistical.

That said, admitting that writing is--at least in part--the voicing of ego, there are other extremes, and I face these extremes almost daily.

Most of the writers I have encountered online, through the mails, and in person--these folk have taken ego several levels beyond sanity. Forget about pleasant company, these cats are pure terror and unadulterated pain to be around.

One of my least favorites of this lot is a guy who, having experienced some mild success in writing, began to crow of himself as "a brand". He would constantly speak of himself in third-person terminology as "the SoandSo Brand" (I'm not giving him the satisfaction of mentioning his name. Advertising and all that sort of thing, you know.) Every time I heard him say this, or saw him write this, I wanted to either puke out my guts, or punch him in his sanctimonious face. He loved to announce in this way that he was no longer a person toiling at a job, but had transcended that existence and had entered a new level of being.

And even some of my close friends who are writers talk about how great they are and how wonderful their current project if bragging about it and screaming it aloud will make it so.

My message to them is this:

Cut it the fuck out.

Really. Just stop it. The fact that you wrote something is enough admission of ego. The act of having shepherded that work into print is a further voicing of your mad self-centered existence. When you step beyond this and enter that next phase of assholiness you have become a slimy salesman, a seller of snake oil, a mover of sub-prime interest, a scumbag politician.

So just cut it the fuck out with the false bravado of how great you are and how perfectly sparkling your work. Because mainly it's all a lie, and truly--except for a few idiots--you're not impressing anyone and only making yourself look like a goddamned idiot.

You think you're Hemingway. But you're not. You're this guy.

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