By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine
When it comes to ego, size matters! Your ego is usually judged by others but most of the time we do not hear the final judgment unless it is negative. Should you have a large ego it usually is considered a negative. One of my favorite quotes is, “He may not be much but he is all he thinks about.” Honestly those with a large ego can intimidate us and maybe it is because we do not have that self-conception in such a large way as they do.
Small egos are addressed in such a different manner as to make you think you are lacking. You are encouraged with pep talks, “Win this one for the Gipper”, motivating words and phrases like Nike’s Just Do It and stories of overcoming great odds like the Tortoise and the Hare.
Your ego can be perceived as a positive or a negative gift but a gift all the same. In a recent interview Bruce Springsteen was asked how he determined to get started in the music business. Revealing his ego Springsteen replied, “I had listened to those guys on the radio and thought I was better than some of them. They just didn’t know it yet.” Like many of us Springsteen knew in is heart he was good. His ego felt he may even be better than some. This was enough to get him started in that direction and the rest is history.
During the interview Springsteen was asked where he thought his drive comes from and he answered, “I believe every artist has someone who told him that they weren’t worth dirt and someone who told them they were the second coming of baby Jesus and they believed them both. And that’s the fuel that starts the fire.” And I would add it also the fuels your ego. Many of us have been shortchanged by someone’s low opinion of our abilities. That hurts and can destroy some of us. But there is that other part of us that can lift us up when that happens. It’s our ego. With a strong ego we tend to remember those that thought we were the second coming of baby Jesus and put off those with discouraging words.
As a writer you must know as you read some things that have made it to print and wonder how it did, you must know, as Springsteen did, that you are better than some of them. You must also know that some will say as a writer you aren’t worth dirt. You can’t listen to them because they may be the same people that printed those books that you are puzzled about how they got into print. They were wrong before. You must also know some will say you are the second coming of baby Jesus. Careful what you listen too.
As a young girl from south Arkansas once said to me, “My Daddy told me never get no higher than pickin’ corn or lower than diggin’ tators.” I say Daddy was a wise man. Don’t let your ego take you higher than pickin’ corn or lower than diggin’ tators. Listen to your heart and keep the fire fueled with your love of writing.