I used to be a pretty big fan of Quentin Tarantino, it's true. In the early 90s? It was hard not to. Okay, things got a little shaky after watching CITY ON FIRE, but RESERVOIR DOGS is not that film and vice versa. Sure, it would've been nice to get some kind of nod. I dug PULP FICTION a lot as well. Maybe it was the structure. Maybe it was the humor. The soundtrack certainly had a hand in it. The writing was sharp.
Including probably the truest thing QT has put to film:
"That's just pride fucking with you."
And that's the real deal right there. Pride fucking with you. With me.
See, me wrangling with a writing career (ha) has always been an issue. Namely my inability to even get arrested up until a little while back. Of course, once you get arrested and I'll drop the metaphor there, then what? You wonder if its ever gonna be enough.
That's just pride fucking with you.
Wondering about your place on the shelves or whether you'll even get there. Whether you'll even pay for all the shows you go to in order to promote the books. Whether you can even pay for printing. Yeah, you can make the argument that's pride fucking with you.
The one place that pride can't fuck with you is in the book itself. Oh, there'll be all manner of fuckery after, don't sweat that. Reviewers will not get it, or you'll be cliche or you'll be too complicated or too predictable. Your pages will be too crowded or wait there's not enough of them (that's mostly in comics.) Oh, my favorite. "Maybe if you'd had a little more room, you could have really made something out of it."
I've got responses to all of these, and again, it's pride fucking with me. It's not my place to answer these, even if I wish they were more glowing so maybe other people would talk the book up and oh, wait. Pride. Motherfucker. Right there. Goddammit. It's sneaky.
But we live in a world where promotion is more than half the battle, right? You gotta lean into that personal brand and gather up an army. You have to. You have to do it out on social media. Generate that content. Pay to get it out there. Oh, right. Pride driving the howling pit. Though you could argue that this is more Thirst driving the action, but pride and thirst are interrelated when you get down to it. Pride drives the unspoken "I deserve" of thirst.
Pride of genre identity, of which clique you belong to. You got past the gatekeepers, now you get to build the walls around genre yourself! Yeah, that's pride. Fighting about what category phrase you do or don't belong to instead of worrying about the work being the work. I mean, hell, you join up with a genre army to aim at readers, right. You deserve those readers. Pride, man. Right there.
I've often said, likely to my detriment as an authority about writing, that the best writing is done without ego. The stuff that's happening when you know where you're kinda going but another pathway or two gets sparked and you explore a new territory. Where everything isn't on rails and you're just driving that heroic journey like it was at the Indy 500. I'm trying to remember, what kind of shape is that track? Where are you driving? Oh, right. A circle. Got it. But you gotta do what's expected so you can get that audience. There's that you, that ego, and the throbbing mass at the center of it?
That's pride and the sting of being fucked with.
Pride and ego, man. Right there. Of course all this is baked into the system now. You go out on social media to spread the word about the writing to get more readers and more social media reach and does any of this actually have to do with the books and making a quality book? Hell no. You can even argue that it runs counter to that and you might even be right. Maybe better to only exist as words, pull a Salinger or Pynchon. Maybe.
Anyways, I continue to wrestle with this, but there's a conclusion that seems, well, inevitable. Just wonder if I'm brave enough to do it. To just do the work without worrying about the outcome. Oh yeah, you know that's pride. The whole "I spend a year on this thing and it goes out and disappears and boo hoo" and that's 100 percent concentrated pride and ego at work. And that's some seductive toxin, actual poison.
Maybe ego destruction, or at the very least minimization, is it. I know, seems weird to say in the world we live in today, right? You may as well not even exist. Without the swagger and the boasting? Come on. That's worse than being basic. And yet the other stuff is just ego and window dressing. But that's enough to get by, it seems.
This didn't go where I'd meant. But maybe that's okay, too.