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des
Posted on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - 02:03 am:   

Have writers got an ego. Yes, specially fiction ones, but it depends how you define 'ego'. I see myself more as a poetic writer, as opposed to a fiction one. Poetry has even more of an ego driving it, whilst the finished product should be completely ego-less, for it to be a poem. A paradox?

But I don't think ego is the right word.
Maybe there is the person who writes - which is almost like a second nature over which your control varies - and, secondly, the person who reads what you have just written with a cold eye, a you which you feel is the 'real' you and, thirdly, the person who is perhaps (or perhaps not) the you that the fiction or prose poem or poem themselves convey. And the three interact (not struggle) with each other in some way. I feel this process is a positive, creative activity.
I use the word 'you' in a general sense above.

I also think what I have just *said* above is pretentious, which comes back to my original point of 'ego', ie. that all creative writers who strive to be published carry a very necessary pretentiousness (even if it is just an ounce of it). So another paradox?
des
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Carole C
Posted on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - 02:32 am:   

I don't think the above was pretentious, and agree with you that pretentiousness can be a valuable tool which might indeed be necessary for a writer (just so long as you don't believe it yourself). And besides all that, pretentiousness is fun :-)

I've often wondered about this question of 'do writer's have big egos?', as I don't really think that they do. To me writing (or art) is really about communication, and the better someone is at communicating, the less ego they seem to need. I don't read a book thinking, my what a huge ego this person has, but often think that all the writer is trying to say is 'look how clever I am' rather than actually wishing to impart something of value to the reader.

I reckon that where the idea of the big ego comes from (particularly when viewed from the outside) is the necessity of having to promote your work.





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des
Posted on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - 01:35 pm:   

Carole says: pretentiousness is fun

Can one ever avoid pretentiousness, I wonder, fun or not? If one goes on about Proust (as I do sometimes!), I may be boring my audience, I fear. And those words 'I may be boring my audience' are also another pretension on top of the original pretension of talking about Proust in the first place, inasmuch as I am *assuming* that most people are automatically bored by talk of Proust, but that doesn't stop me talking about Proust! Just as I am talking about pretentiousness now (knowing there may be an audience reading it).


I love all forms of Literature, so automatically - me being a creative writer, too - I would like to write Literature, if I can. It seems to be a natural ambition for someone who loves Literature. However, I sense in myself - and I think this is one of my faults - as someone who restricts Literature too much to certain aspects of Literature. When I'm at a quiz, and in the Literature round they ask something about something modern I don't know about, I immediately claim (half-jokingly) that the question is not about Literature! *That* is pretentious - but I don't think I'm a pretentious person. The paradox is that actually to debate a concept of pretentiousness is perhaps pompous (which is one of the definitions of pretentiousness). To *need* to claim I am not pretentious is perhaps pretentious in itself!

Anyway, I just brought up Literature as it is relevant to the pretentiousness of writing for money or for Literature. Which is most pretentious? (I am assuming anything written as Literature will not earn much money unless you are a genius who can combine both money and Literature during one's lifetime).

As an aside, what about a creative writer who writes poetry and stories but permanently keeps all his work in a drawer and never lets anyone see it? Is he pretentious?


And don't all creative writers go through alternating periods of self-doubt and confidence, calling our own behaviour different things to match our different moods at the time? And accordingly we vary our styles and ambitions to match what we find ourselves writing?

But we can never escape pretentiousness: it's very cloying.

Carole also says: I reckon that where the idea of the big ego comes from (particularly when viewed from the outside) is the necessity of having to promote your work.

This is very true. A writer should be skilled at writing not in promotion. I feel I have corrupted my writing/publishing ability with the madness of publicity. (Another pretentious statement, no doubt, on my part!)
des






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Rhys
Posted on Wednesday, October 19, 2005 - 03:16 am:   

Most of the writers I've ever met have enormous egos. Not just enormous but diseased. The act of writing is a desperate call for attention. Think about Lovecraft. What does Lovecraft's work actually mean? Every line he ever wrote says the same thing: "I'm lonely, I'm a genius, I need a girlfriend."

I don't really see much 'communication' going on in the writing world. Effective communication is a two way process and the act of writing is more akin to making a speech. Like Hitler.

One of the things about writers I find most distasteful is the way they are always so desperate to let you know that they are a writer. In public, with people I don't know, I always keep quiet about the fact I write. I feel that's good manners. I don't really expect people I don't know to approach me and say, "Hey I tightened the nuts on a railway bridge this morning!" or "I harvested three fields of wheat today!" but writers only need about thirty seconds to introduce themselves, announce that they are a writer and then proceed to go into detail about what they have written and what they are planning to write and how they are going to write it.

No. Please stop.

Writer have huge egos. Huge egos are bad. Not just huge but *fragile*. That's a dangerous combination, like a skyscaper made of brittle glass.

I say all this for two reasons: (a) I believe it, (b) I'm a grumpy old git.

Thank you and goodnight...
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des
Posted on Wednesday, October 19, 2005 - 04:40 am:   

Indeed, with you all the way, Rhys.

I said above:
I feel I have corrupted my writing/publishing ability with the madness of publicity.

simply from Des.
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Carole C
Posted on Wednesday, October 19, 2005 - 05:33 am:   

I dunno about that - if it's a desperate call for attention, this is doomed at the outset by quickly learning the fact that nobody *^*king cares (just like in the real world).

And wouldn't constant rejection shatter a huge fragile ego very quickly?

As for saying you are a writer, ditto, you soon learn that nobody *^*king cares about that either, and not only that, but the fear is that they will immediately think you are pretentious and conceited, with a huge fragile ego. (So in fact it ends up being like a dirty, embarrassing little secret that's best kept quiet)

Can't writing just be taken for what it probably is - just an expression of the creative urge? A lot of writers actually *don't* like a lot of attention - that's why they spend a lot of time alone in front of the computer (on the other hand they might have a fantastically huge and fragile need for attention bubbling away at the bottom of a huge emotional void) but who really cares anyway?

As long as the end product is readable.
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des
Posted on Wednesday, October 19, 2005 - 05:41 am:   

re your penult para, Carole, that's one of the reasons I started Nemonymous but - based on experience - most writers don't submit or subscribe to it because it's not an overtly author-named vehicle.
des
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AT
Posted on Wednesday, October 19, 2005 - 04:11 pm:   

Dear Grumpy Old (haha) Git,
I've tattooed your words on my ego this morning. I just love them, but don't let your head swell from the compliment. As to your comment I don't really expect people I don't know to approach me and say, "Hey I tightened the nuts on a railway bridge this morning!" or "I harvested three fields of wheat today!", we can only hope they do. Instead, we need to seek them out. It's too bad that the inverse interest principle rules with talkers, too.
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Rhys
Posted on Thursday, October 20, 2005 - 03:11 am:   

Dear AT, unfortunately my head is already swollen, monstrously swollen in fact, like an Indian river after an unfeasibly long monsoon, and its contents have spilled over my levee-headedness to deluge the flood plain of my personality. Or something like that.

I was in a dance club two nights ago and a man came up to me and introduced himself as a writer. Then he shouted in my ear, "The one thing I hate about dance clubs is that you can't have a good conversation about literature in them!"

Ho hum!
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des
Posted on Thursday, October 20, 2005 - 05:56 am:   

"The one thing I hate about dance clubs is that you can't have a good conversation about literature in them!"

Now that *is* pretentious.

The trouble with discussing ego, pretentiousness, authorial name-pride etc. is that it is an indication that those discussing it suffer from what they are discussing otherwise they would be a million miles from such a discussion.

It is said an ego is not possible without an ego. But an ego that drives creativity or art is perhaps the only example of a discrete ego that works in an insulated fashion and is not underpinned by the ego that normally underpins ego.
des

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des
Posted on Thursday, October 20, 2005 - 08:10 am:   

Actually, thinking about it, writers do not generally tell people they meet in daily life that they are writers - because the normal reaction is one of 'but that's a hobby, what do you actually do?'
des

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