Updated: May 19
A typical social encounter:
Literally anyone: *Polite head nod*
Me: *Resist the urge to info-dump the status of my novel*
If any words are spoken during this interaction, public or otherwise, it is also an exercise in self-control by me to not spill the tea about my plans for chapters thirteen-through-seventeen. An author’s constant concentration on their little imaginary world is partially due to hubris, no doubt, but also because it’s all we can think of. Seriously, we are incessantly mentally retracing our literary steps or envisioning the tragic future death of a beloved character—an immersion that leaves little room for anything real to take up virtual space. Names and birthdays? Forget about it, we are at capacity as it is with recalling the linear chain of events from when the love triangle was introduced.
I write this with the intention of encouraging writers or creative artists of any kind to be proud of their work, but believe me, I fully understand the pretentiousness that is part and parcel with bragging about one’s latest project. If some unsuspecting sap is nice enough to inquire about your current masterpiece then they are in for an earful of how your “process” works (the process meaning browse Twitter all day and maybe write two words)
Promotion is a necessary evil and some writers are excellent at it but the average scribe is more than likely introverted by nature. Awkwardness comes with the territory when you’re shy; in fact, if you’re the shut-in type, you don’t even like talking about yourself that much, or at all. Even if you’re an outgoing creator who can expertly work a room, boasting of your work in progress will get you swiped left eventually. Selling your book and yourself can come off as inauthentic and downright gross, but when you’re trying make a buck (or few cents) from your e-book, people will usually get it. Hustling doesn’t completely excuse anyone from sounding like a self-centered diva, though. The result of this conversational conundrum is more often than not a guarded humblebrag when speaking of your passion.
As an aspiring author, I both see it and do it all the time: post the delusional Tweet about how the struggle of keeping track of all my ideas is real, that sort of thing. I’m keenly aware of how I’m an amateur (it’s a hobby until you get paid), so, like with many dreamers, the last thing I want to appear as is a conceited, self-styled genius who is just sitting on the next great American novel. This blog is bad enough, right? There are a ton of creatives just like me who strive to master the subtle art of masking blabbing about their own interests as vulnerable anecdotes about how hard it is to grind out pages.
To whom it may concern (writers, artists, sculptors, builders, makers, creators, painters, animators, editors, directors, comedians, musicians, etc.): if you don’t already do so, I, Jon McBrine, some wannabe writer on the Internet, am giving you permission to be openly proud of your work. Even if it’s just to yourself, just for a few seconds, shove aside the weird guilt over feeling good about what you’re doing and admit that you are good at this. It’s okay to think your story is worth being told and that it is well-written. You pour tireless hours, weeks, months, and years into your make believe universe. Pat yourselves on the back a couple of times. If you’re feeling brave, post a selfie on Instagram and say your manuscript is da bomb dot com.
Once you’ve come down from this feel-good rush, get back to writing. Nobody likes a bragger!