One Part Humility, One Part Hubris

“…please remember this: excessive pride is a familiar sin, but a man may just as easily frustrate the will of God through excessive humility.” – Cuthbert from Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth

One of the difficult things for a published (or hopeful) author to square, at least this author, is the need for humility with the need for hubris. We feel like we have something to say, so we say it. We have to assume someone will care about what we say, otherwise we’d never publish, and it may even be reason enough to keep some of us from ever writing at all.

But we also need to be aware of our shortcomings. We can’t allow arrogance to get in the way of what we want to say. We could end up sabotaging the very message we’re so intent on communicating. We could forgo learning a new trick because we think we know them all.

So we have to strike a balance. If you’re like me, cycling between arrogance and abasement is a daily occurrence and I’m usually tottering over the edge one way or the other before I realize I need a course correction.

Most everyone reading this is a writer, well versed in conflict. How do you deal with this?

– Phillip

6 thoughts on “One Part Humility, One Part Hubris

  1. My only arrogant moment comes when I finish a day’s writing goal. I feel lucky to be able to write and do not assign any output to my genius. It just happens on my watch is all. So I don’t have the conflict since I truly believe half of what I write is merde and try to keep that half from the public eye.

    1. I like your philosophy, John. Like using the sewer system, best to keep the merde out of sight.

  2. Best I can do is surround me with people I trust enough to tell me when I’ve crossed the line one way or the other (hopefully in a sarcastic, original and witty way) and hope I’m receptive enough to hear them. Think the point is I don’t trust my judgement enough to figure it out on my own. My wife, my friends, they keep me grounded enough to not wallow in arrogance or get frozen by abasement. Most of the time. If I’ve not been drinking gin…

    1. Great advice. We’re probably best at lying when it’s to ourselves! And yeah, gin makes a man mean…I try to stick with scotch.

  3. I believe friends and family who know you and whose opinions you trust and respect are the best source for a reality check in either direction. They’ll cheer you on when you need that, but they’ll also rein you in when you go too far. My sweetie is my editor, and he isn’t afraid to be brutally honest with me when I ask for it … which definitely improves my writing. I try to be that for my editing clients too; I tell them what they need to know, which isn’t always what they want to hear.

    1. That’s great you have someone close to you who’s not afraid to hide the truth. My wife is similar and she has an excellent BS detector when I’m trying to justify something that I know deep down is wrong… 🙂

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