The humble writer: rad or affliction
This is a guest post by Caleb J Ross as part of his Stranger Will Tour for Strange blog tour. He will be guest-posting beginning with the release of his novel Stranger Will in March 2011 to the release of his second novel, I Didn’t Mean to Be Kevin and novella, As a Machine and Parts, in November 2011. If you have connections to a lit blog of any type, professional journal or personal site, please contact him. To be a groupie and follow this tour, subscribe to the Caleb J Ross blog RSS feed. Follow him on Twitter: @calebjross.com. Friend him on Facebook: Facebook.com/rosscaleb
How much should an author praise his own work? When is self-congratulation too much? Conversely, when does humility become annoying? Though this entire self-serving blog tour may imply otherwise, I generally try to keep self-promotion to a minimum. But why shouldn’t I, and all authors, take/create opportunities to talk up our work?
Years ago I made a conscious decision to avoid whatever spotlight I happen to fall in front of (even the forever low-wattage bulb that would be used). I don’t know when it happened, but at some point in my life I must have been traumatized by a particularly abrasive braggart. Maybe as a child I got molested by a guido. I don’t know. But what came of this mysterious trauma was an aversion to anything that smelled at all pretentious. Coffee: yes. Soy Latte Frappuccino extra whip double Splenda: no.
But I learned something recently. I am not so much humble as I am self-depreciating (exhibit A: the above parenthetical statement). These two modes are not necessarily the same. Humble requires averting positive attention entirely, or at least diverting the attention to other people. Self-deprecation, by definition, requires that I embrace attention. My goal with this, I think, is two-fold: 1) appear more approachable to everyone, and 2) downplay faith in my own writing in order to dodge the need to defend it. This second item is the scary one.
I think many writers romanticize the idea of producing, producing, producing, and leaving the critics to sort out the genius. I’m no different. I’d love to be burdened with nothing more than content production. But that’s an escape, and I know it. It’s an easy way out.
I have, on occasion, talked at length about my work. Most recently, with Pablo D’Stair as part of the March 2010 edition of his Predicate series. This conversation came easy because it wasn’t motivated by marketing and promotion. Perhaps that’s the line. When commerce is involved, I recede into my shell.
So what’s the point of this blog post? To talk about myself, I guess. I’M CURED!!!
Note: the image above gave me the idea for this post. In no way am I implying that Ryan W. Bradley should alter how he projects his opinions of his own work. Talk is popularity, and his rating got me talking. Well played, Mr. Bradley.