"You've got to check your ego at the door."
I was at a party the day I heard those words. My friend's partner was having a birthday, and they'd just moved in to their new place together, so the event doubled as a housewarming. Or rather, "Housearming". The happy couple both study swordplay, something which I *finally* got to start doing myself in February. Since then I've been blessed to take lessons at Academie Duello, a school for western martial arts. Currently I'm learning the rapier.
The speaker was talking about swordfighting, of course. Most of the partygoers were from the Academie. And what she meant was that it can be easy to be too overconfident, or to think you know more than the rest. Of everything I've learned, that line has stuck with me, and for one reason: it's true.
And it prompted a vital realization: I love taking sword classes. There's a fantastic fitness element to it and I am sure it will work its way into my Fantasy writing. And I won't deny that it's fun to say, "Well, in sword class the other day..."! But what I think I like best about it is that I am a beginner. I am still learning. And I am completely okay with that.
With writing? Not so much.
When I comment at Magical Words, I try to take an attitude that I'm a student and I'm learning, for no other reason than the fact that I don't want to ever get the attitude that I've learned enough about writing and I don't have to learn any more. I'm sure we can all name authors who seem to be phoning it in after awhile. I want to keep learning. I want to be a publishworthy writer.
But that doesn't mean I've been able to check my ego. Writing is something I've been doing for as long as I can remember. Being a storyteller (which very early on, translated in my mind to getting published) is something I want to do as my job. Over the years, I've learned more and more about the craft, and each new novel or rewrite shows that growth. And then I turned twenty, and I started to get impatient. I wrote and rewrote a few times more, but each time, I felt as if I was done, as if I was ready. I started going to SiWC. And anytime I was around other (unpublished) writers, I had this kept-to-myself feeling that I was somehow smarter and better in some way.
(A horrible, horrible thought, I know. But it was there. And as I've said about my experiences in Pen Name Hell, to deny its existence would be wrong.)
Now I'm nearly thirty. I've been writing for more than two decades, now. I'm acutely aware that there is so much I have to learn. I would *like* to finally feel that my writing is "good enough", and maybe I'm starting to feel that way again, at last, except that now I'm bracing for not being "good enough" and having to start over, again, because I haven't reached the right level.
And this time, if it's true, I'm okay with it.
Confidence? That's good to have. Self-confidence especially. You've got to believe in yourself enough to pick up that pen or that sword in the first place. But there is no place for cockiness on this path. Check your ego at the door. And get writing!