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Is Writing Egotistical?

Updated on July 19, 2010

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Is Writing Egotistical?

Of course writing is an act of ego. However we are here not to "define" ourselves with our writing, but rather to reach out to others and give our opinions, our ideas, our ethics, etc. to others and so get a sense of their views of us. Once we do that as a writer we become open to criticism. How can writing be an act of narcissism? Until it is legitimately published it is nothing. Seriously, nothing. Until another person reads it and says "I can see what you are saying. I am in some agreement," then you have done nothing at all in service to your own self. Publishing is the key. A person like The Unibomber can run off pages and pages of his "manifesto" and even bomb some poor innocent person's office trying to make an insane or invalid egotistical point. But if the manifesto wasn't published it was because someone else said "This is an act of massive egotism, and not worth looking at." Nowadays with the internet it seems "anyone can be published." And they can be. Does that make their work worth anything to anyone? No. I read hundreds of things a week that should never have seen the light of day. Just as we can "see" things by light reflecting off of them, we see each other as reflections of one another. Narcisssim occurs when you fall in love with your own self-perceived image. It's a danger. But only if your writing is in the league of say, Truman Capote or Stephen King, or Mark Twain.

Writers write in order to communicate. Period. If you are not communicating, then you are simply spitting into the wind. You are alone and it doesn't matter what you think of yourself. You can sit around saying "I am a brilliant mind, a mighty creator, a literary giant." Guess what? That won't buy you a cup of coffee. And yes, your mom and brother or cousin can say "Wow you really are a writer." And this will support your vanity and narcissism to an extent. But until you put your work into the hands of strangers and see what results, you cannot say you are a writer. If those strangers all say "what a work of massive egotism!" You might want to seek some professional therapeutic advice. Otherwise keep writing...some criticisms are not worth the paper they are printed on. However a consensus opinion in the public forum that you are a complete ass, might warrant further investigation.

Some writers are naturally vain and egotistical. There is something about the profession which makes them feel they are above others. Some writers are humble and selfless. That's because that's who they really are inside. Anyone who is vain and egotistical can find a profession that makes them feel even more-so; politician, doctor, engineer or architect (some are notoriously ego fulfilling jobs!) Writer happens to fit the bill. So does actor and artist. In the end we all do what we do to fulfill ourselves in some way. But it's how you express yourself as a human being that makes you an vain egotist or a humble saint. In the end I think all of us land somewhere in the middle of the two extremes.

I write because I love to read stories. Then I get stories in my head that I think other readers would also love to read. From my experience, this seems to be the right thing for me to do. Strangers generally like my work. So I am happy. If it makes you happy you continue to do it. Yet writers are all human beings, and humans can be pretty weird. Some people write because they are unhappy and want to share their unhappiness. Some write because they know they can influence others and they spread disinformation or misinformation purposely. Groups like the "Tea Party" and the "NeoConservatives" and yes, even the Nazi's with Herr Hitler's infamous Mein Kampf, as well as the Catholic Church and Islam and the Mormons, etc. etc. all used writing to sway people to their cause, just or unjust. Or even use writing to magically make themselves look more important and powerful. It's a fact that writing itself is a very influential artform. Moreso than even visual art!

Look how long the Bible has been in print. Yet most people know it is a mish-mosh of ancient stories told by various authors who had no idea how the modern world would ever receive their work. And yet many people now believe the Bible is "The Undeniable Word of God." As if God sat down one day and started writing it from start to finish, offered it to his local publisher and got a nice advance for it! God never wrote one word of that book. Not physically. And since today we still ask "Is there a God?" we can be quite certain God is not the author of anything man's pen has produced. So vanity and egotism must have been rampant among the authors of the Bible, since they were in essence telling their readers; "This came directly from the mouth of God to my ear!" That's a big statement which cannot be backed up. Still writing is magic. The distillation of magical hieroglyphic symbols into letters and words were meant to be a potent form of code. A code that could in fact be used to directly communicate with others and with the gods. So there is a form of egotism firmly attached to writing in all of its forms. For instance, when Stephen Hawking writes about Black Holes, people listen. He suddenly becomes the foremost authority on the subject, because what he "thought" about, he wrote down so others could see and understand it. Does that make him "right?" Is he the voice of God on Earth when it comes to Black Holes? No. That is just how we human beings see him, because he wrote something down.

Writing in effect is a massively ego driven process. It is "I" saying something to you. It is "I" needing to be recognized and listened to. No matter if it is Jefferson penning the Constitution, or Muhammad dictating the Koran, or the priests of Egypt writing a laundry list, it is all the same. What is the intent behind the writing? To help? To heal? To create a bridge? Or to divide people, to steal or to create a false sense of one's self in others minds, which is to say, to lie? Intent is everything. If your intent is to not be egotistical, then you are not being egotistical. If you do not understand your own intent, best find out what it is. In the end however all writing is an act of ego. But all acts of ego are not narcissism or egotism. the best way to find out about yourself however, in my humble opinion, is to write.


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      Eyeagree 5 years ago

      Great article!

      You put into words what I feel about some authors.