I don’t think I’m ever going to stop feeling inspired to write after I read some stuff over at Penelope Trunk‘s blog. That’s why I am going to keep reading it and keep telling you to read it, too.
Fella (that’s my new euphemism for my domestic partner. I like vintage terms like groovy and swell) thinks I am conceited. The truth is that I am aware of my strengths, and generally find it to be more satisfactory to acknowledge, but not dwell on, my weaknesses. Here is a parody of a typical conversation:
Me: “I think I can make extra money offering creative writing courses.”
Fella: “Maybe you could if you’d published a book.”
People who are not egomaniacs stop right there. They would be convinced that people would laugh and they would give up before they got started.
This was my thought process: So I have not published a book, that is true. But I have published a short story in a literary journal that published Raymond Carver, too, and I write for my local paper, and I write for more things all the time, and I have a BA in English where I studied writing pretty exclusively. I have helped people with their writing as long as I can remember.
And my students don’t mind that I haven’t published a book. I am a good teacher. And I am funny. And I am also kind and I exert considerable effort, and people notice.
Five Steps to Becoming an Egomaniac
- Don’t ever tell yourself “no.” If you get a great idea, keep thinking about it. If you want to try something new, do it. Don’t make excuses, just do it. If you fail, so what? You can’t succeed if you don’t try, either.
- Make a list of things you’re good at. Even silly things like tying your shoes and boiling eggs. Everybody is awesome at lots of things. Being an egomaniac is about a habit of mind. If you constantly remind yourself what you are good at, it will be easier to see new things you’re good at. Practice acknowledging these things.
- If you want something, just ask! I have blatantly asked for all of the writing jobs I have. They do not find me, I find them. I walk up to strangers and start conversations. When I find out they might need a writer, I tell them to hire me. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.
- View failures and refusals as opportunities. If I mess something up, I try it again. I look at it from all sides and decide where I went wrong. If I don’t know or can’t tell, I tweak something random and try again. If somebody says no, don’t take it personally. Probably they would hire you if they could. Even if this is not true, it is better for your outlook to believe it. This habit of mind will make it easier when someone attacks you with intention. Usually they’re attacking themselves, too. So remember that and respond with grace and dignity.
- Don’t wait for people to like you. You have to like yourself. I like myself. When there’s something I don’t like about myself, I try to change it. When there’s something somebody else doesn’t like about me, I examine the legitimacy of their complaint after I get over my defensive, “They’re wrong and a jerk and ugly, too” knee jerk. If you like yourself, other people will like you. If you do these things, you’ll find it easier to like yourself.