The Writer’s Ego

I almost always urge people to write in the first person. … Writing is an act of ego and you might as well admit it.
~William Zinsser

 

Even if writers do not realize it, writing is their way of putting themselves out for the world to see. It’s a way of saying, “Here I am, world. This is me.” They might think they aren’t revealing anything of themselves in their writing, especially if they write about things other than themselves, yet everything they write carries their mark. Little bits and pieces of themselves, their feelings, their beliefs, their values, their choices, their preferences, even their hopes and frustrations, show up in their writing. Not that the readers will always know or find out, but those who do know the writer will know what parts of the written works are really parts of the writer. Fiction writers are probably the best at hiding who they really are in their works because they can put themselves in several different characters with no one character really reflecting who they are. Even the settings of their stories can seem so remote from their reality, the truth becomes unrecognizable except to the most discerning and critical scholar. Poets, on the other hand, reveal themselves in their poetry over and over again, quite simply because poetry is an expression of the self. Whereas prose can be objective and distant, poetry is highly personal and subjective. Poetry is the voice of the soul and for writers to express themselves in poetry is to bare their souls to the world. Either way, writing, more than any other professional pursuit, is a public declaration that the writer is not afraid to let the world know the person behind the work. Even when writing incognito, the writer knows there will be feedback, and it is a rare writer, especially at the start of a career, who will not care what their reading public says. It is exactly that feedback that convinces writers to persevere or, possibly, select another vocation, because writing, as an avocation, is merely dabbling in the art. The person whose vocation is writing will do everything to become completely immersed in writing, to be a writer through and through, to put the id, the ego, and the superego into words.

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