Boorish Big Head aka writing and ego
I’ve been getting rid of paperwork lately, which is never a fun task because you actually have to evaluate each piece and wonder why you saved some of the things you did. However, every once in a while you come across something like I did today: short fiction and the resulting critiques from an online workshop that I was a part of. One thing is certain, time and distance are assets for writing.
My philosophy these days is to be as honest with myself and you as I can be so let me be blunt. After receiving some rather nice critiques early on, I got a boorish big head. I pretty much thought that I could not only write myself out of a paper bag on the first attempt without much in the way of revision except for quick proofing, but that what I wrote was excellent. Since I’d always dreamed of being a writer, I just figured the world was waiting for me.
Several (read many) rejections from journals tamped down that early arrogance, but I still suffered from enhanced ego when looking at critiques of my work from my peers.
Now, years later, my head has been reduced to normal as a result of experiencing life. I looked at the critiques and realized that the people who had been generous enough to offer them had insights that were well worth revisiting and maybe even some of the fiction itself could be worth revisiting. We will see.
This brings me to the current book I am reading for review, which may or may not appear here. The book is self-published and suffers from un-tamped author ego that has made them ignore proofing and editing and tact.
It can be a magical thing to see your words on paper and find an audience, but if you are going to self-publish, you should always invest in two things: a proofreader and an editor. If you’re lucky, it’s a very good friend who will take the time to read your manuscript and catch the things you missed. I can assure you that in anything over a paragraph, errors are there and don’t depend on your spell checker (keep in mind your texting autocorrect feature) or a grammar checker. The editor should take a red pen to your overly enthusiastic prose and chop it without hesitation. It might hurt, but your manuscript will be better for it.
If you’ve acquired a proofreader and an editor, then get a sensitive friend to also read it. Not everyone is going to think that some things are quite as funny as you think they are. That sensitive person could probably also tell you that constant digs referencing politics or geographic regions or even self-imposed dietary restrictions are not going to widen your readership. But these things are your call and you may just want your close (proximity) peers to read your book. Keep in mind the world is not as large as it used to be. With that said, there is always going to be someone who is offended by something or everything. You just have to decide if your soapbox rant represents the thoughts you want to have linked to you forever.
I am an advocate for self-publishing. I think that there are a lot of writers who are getting their work read and appreciated and loved because they had the initiative to publish it themselves. They probably also had the self-awareness to review their work critically and apply the above-mentioned friend method for proofing, editing, and tact. And, hopefully, if the writer suffered from boorish big head, it wasn’t terminal.
Happy reading, writing, and living!