It takes ego to be an artist. Which is not to say that all artists are raging egomaniacs.
However, it does take a certain amount of self-confidence to allow people to view your work. You have to believe that it’s good.
Do I believe in my work? Yes, yes I do. I write fun stories. They have, what I hope, is surprising depth, but they are fun, and I know I am good at what I do.
So this last week as been most humbling.
See, I stopped writing my fun shorts and novellas and dusted off my novels. 100,000+ word, door-stopping, epic fantasy… I’m BACK, baby!
However, I set down these novels nearly three years ago. And I grew a lot as a writer in those years. I learned what not to do when writing. I learned a lot of stuff I didn’t know when I wrote my novels.
Which isn’t me saying that they are terrible. They aren’t. The story is solid, the characters well-rounded, the world well-balanced.
It’s the prose. It’s the technique. It’s the little things that make me a better writer than I was three years.
And now I have to go back and fix those things. Which is very humbling. Acknowledging your faults and weaknesses as an artist is always humbling. I like that I’m a better writer than I was three years ago. But that fact that I wasn’t as good as I am now is smacking me in the face… a lot.
I’m coming to understand artists who don’t review their old work.
But I also have that ego I mentioned earlier. There is a good story here, and the work I’m doing on it is purely cosmetic. I may be better at sentence structure now, but my story structure and character development was always solid.
And I’m grateful for the other writers who took the time to help me learn the last few years. I’m going to take that knowledge and apply to these novels. I’m going to make them better because I’m a better writer.
However, being better means I wasn’t always as good as I am now… And there is the great humbling in a nut shell. If you are striving to improve, that means the stuff you did previously isn’t as good as what you do now… and I’ve gone cross-eyed.
So yes, my humbling is also fueling my ego. My ego has grown because it’s been humbled. Welcome to being an artist.
Kate Whitaker writes for fun and profit from the woods of the Olympic Penninsula. You can most likely find her sitting at her kitchen table yelling at kids as she tries to figure out a new way to kill made up monsters. She has a newsletter and a comic.