Friday, August 10, 2007

Ego in Writers

I've often gotten the feeling, since the ULA was started almost seven years ago, that I'm supposed to apologize for having a healthy ego-- a good opinion of myself as a thinker and a writer.

Yet if I didn't have a strong ego-- even a trace of arrogance-- I would've been crushed by this society, and by the circumstances of life, long ago.

Unlike those in other endeavors-- sports, or business-- writers aren't supposed to have strong egos. At best they should be self-loving but haplessly confused stumblebum successes on the order of Jonathan Franzen. But too much ego is out. Throw yourself on a cross as a martyr for the world like Dave Eggers, but stifle that ego, at least in public.

No, in the literary realm, ego and arrogance are reserved for the gatekeepers; minimally-talented editors and reviewers who erect barriers of snobbery and dismiss all who don't approach them with humble mien and appropriate groveling. It's the way the entire system has been set up. Somehow, because of their positions as literary apparatchiks, cogs in an enormous machine, they somehow believe THEY are the more valuable commodity.

One more reason why the present apparatus of literature must be changed.

1 comment:

Fran said...

I think a writer and/or thinker having a strong ego is good; having a LARGE ego isn't--there's a difference between those two types. A large ego interferes with a person's ability to self-criticize, which is necessary to improving in whatever endeavors that person is involved. People who think they're huge and fantastic and perfect usually stop trying to improve on themselves because they think that's impossible, so they have nowhere left to go but downward.

Actually, I think Eggers seems to have a large ego, like his self-doubting is more a for-promotional-purposes affectation. His ego is all over his book--the one with genius in the title....