Sunday, 16 January 2011
The Ego Has Landed
I've blogged about ego before. It's a vexed question, how much free rein one should give the old ego. Because we all have one, or we wouldn't be able to function. We'd never have the self belief to write a story and the pig-headed determination to go through the painful process of trying to get published. A healthy self-regard is essential to survive the crushing criticism and rejection of a writer's life.
Perhaps it's because we spend so much time alone, creating (and being the Master of) our own little universe, it is so easy to let that Ego inflate itself into a major handicap rather than a necessary tool. Sitting in our little garrets, pouring our precious prose onto the page with no one to question or challenge our ideas and choices, we begin to believe that we are the centre of the real universe as well as our fictional one. Think of all those Evil Genius antagonists in Bond and Batman films, full of their own importance, issuing pompous speeches and barking orders at their obsequious lackeys. That's what happens to your Ego after a while.
Ego's worst enemy is Other People, although he craves their adoration and obedience more than anything. Sure, it's wonderful to be the boss of your fictional world, but real people make much better slaves. So when they behave like real people and have the temerity to challenge him, he goes berserk. Any disagreement is a threat to his absolute authority and cannot be tolerated. He begins to act exactly like the Bond villain and either argues to the point of lunacy, refusing to let the matter drop, or else flounces off and sulks in his garret, still shouting insults from afar. It's pitiful to watch because Ego can't see what an ass he's being. Unfortunately everyone else can.
But the saddest part is the harm Ego does to ourselves. He won't let us change, because he always knows best. He won't accept advice, he thinks everyone who disagrees with him is a fool or misguided and he won't let us learn anything new. So we stagnate. But all the while he keeps telling us it is the Rest of the World that's wrong and him that's right.
Ego makes us brittle where it would serve us better to be fluid. Nothing in life is ever fixed; everything is constantly changing, including ourselves. If Ego stops us from adapting to new circumstances, he becomes a handicap instead of a help.
So beware that old Ego and his delusions of grandeur. He's always there, lurking, telling you how great you are. Just remember what a Bond villain he can be if he goes unchecked and keep him in his place.