Humility about your work is a virtue.     Circle your answer:         True          False

My dictionary says to be humble is to offer submission, to be insignificant, unpretentious.  To humble someone is (by one definition) to “destroy the power,  independence or prestige of.”

Humility is defined as “the quality or state of being humble” and next to it is “humiliate,” which, I imagine, you can define for yourself.

So–is humility a virtue?   Most of us, including me,  would have circled “True” without giving it much thought.

Would you do so now?

Hmmm.  If the answer is still “True,” then think about this:  If we don’t value our own work, then why do we do it?  To have a job that isn’t too difficult?  To make money?  Or, simply, to keep busy?

On the other hand, I hope many of us will admit we like our work, and are proud of it.  Those of us who are writers may confess, “I enjoy creating stories, ”  “I love the power of language,”  “I love using my imagination to make new worlds,” or “I like helping people by doing research and sharing facts.”  (Or . . . . . . you fill in the blank.)

It’s amazing to me how many times I read some version of “I enjoy promoting others’ writing but not my own,” or, “It seems pushy for me to talk about my own work too much, ” or even, “I don’t want my name on the book cover to be that large.”

Come on! Isn’t it okay to be proud of what we create? There’s a lot of hard work in any job or profession, and much of the time those notengaged in an active writing career haven’t a clue that writing is hard work–which detracts from their appreciation of what the writer has accomplished. If you’ve been writing a while, haven’t you been approached by adults who tell you some version of, “I have thought I’d write a book like yours some day.”?   It’s possible–no, probable–that they haven’t a clue that writing a novel is hard work.   You may even have been approached by a few people who say “I have a terrific idea for a story, I’ll tell it to you, you write it, and we’ll split the profits.” (Are all writers reading this laughing now?)

If we don’t believe in our work,  if we aren’t truly proud of it, if we  don’t think it worth while and don’t tell people about it, then who else might?  Who better than the source of the work to promote the work, to say interesting things about it, to ask others to write words of praise, and, indeed, to brag a bit.

C’m on — you’re a creative person.  You know the difference between obnoxious bragging, and sharing ideas about writing that may (who are you to judge?) lift its readers to new insights, to an awakening, or, most importantly, to a few pleasant hours away from the daily grind while they simply enjoy (!) being entertained.

Go forth, and share good things with your neighbors.   Then you can be humbly grateful.  🙂



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  1. Diane Schultz Says:

    I went to Bouchercon this past weekend in Cleveland OH, and on Friday night found myself standing at the bar of the House of Blues restaurant, meeting an author from Germany and a publicist from NYC who were good friends. They’d met at a prior B’con. On the other hand, I was working on my first novel and when I handed them my quickly-scrabbled together business cards, I said something about knowing that my first novel is not likely to be the one that gets published, that it’s more likely to be the third before I’m there, that I have a ways to go, and the publicist said, “Don’t say that. Don’t even think like that. You have to think that this is the one. Be proud of what you’ve produced.” Her point was well-taken, even if statistics and the odds say otherwise. I do think it will be good, but I believe I will get better, too. That, like anything, we do improve as we focus on making this one the best one we can, and then move on to another work that stretches our abilities again, learning another little trick that makes our work so much better. When I was quilting, I had pieces of muslin and batting that I worked on to perfect my hand stitches, and I made samplers for pillows, and learned to quilt in-the-ditch by outlining fish swimming on a black background. Only the pillow tops were finished, and I can see the errors in the very first piece, but the one I appliqued for my grandmother looks good. I learned. I grew. I improved. But I enjoyed the process, too. It’s hard to know what to say about our work when we speak to others. We try to see it through their eyes so that we come through as reliable sources and evaluators of quality. It’s hard, though, to really be able to do that to our own written work, I think. And maybe that’s why we need our writing friends and colleagues who can see what we can’t and let us know how to go forward, when to submit, and when to edit.

    • radine Says:

      Thanks for the comments, Diane. The comparison to your quilting experience is a great one. It is sometimes a puzzlement about how to describe our writing to others — and I do tailor my remarks to the individual or group I am speaking to, but I don’t know if I totally agree about seeing it through their eyes. Other than taking into consideration what people’s specific interests may be, (if I know that or can guess), I will also rely on what I feel about my work.

      For example: If I am speaking to a group of prime time adults, I will comment on the fact my major characters fit that time of life. I probably wouldn’t emphasize that to an audience of younger adults, but perhaps might mention what I wanted to convey about life, about what my characters teach me and others about finding strength within. Perhaps this type of thinking is one result of spending time on this planet for many years and gaining a depth of knowledge about what makes people tick.

      Thanks again for your thoughtful comments.

  2. Marilyn Meredith Says:

    I think we all go through some of this. I write and hope others like it–never know when something is good enough–but if you had fun writing it, that should help.

    • radine Says:

      Am I wrong in guessing if it weren’t for the fun of writing as we do, the largest majority of us wouldn’t be writing and seeking publication? That’s certainly true for me!

  3. christinekling Says:

    I was really drawn to this blog topic, Radine, when I saw your post on the SinC list. Sometimes this business beats us into, not humility necessarily, but certainly a loss of confidence. Like so many midlist authors, I went through declining sales and an editor and publisher who lost interest in me. I began to believe that I had had this great opportunity, but I simply wasn’t good enough to see it through. The creme is supposed to rise to the top eventually – and my books hadn’t. No matter how much we enjoy writing and we pour all we have into our books, when the books don’t sell well, it’s very disheartening.

    But then I self-published my next book and got the rights back to those other books, and I found out that while my publisher wasn’t good at selling them, I’m very good at it! Fan mail poured in and I was eventually approached by Thomas & Mercer and my career has been revived.

    I never gave up, but I certainly went through some dark days. Now I am a great advocate of what you advise in the title of this blog – Believing in Ourselves.


    • radine Says:

      Beautifully said, Christine! Thanks so much for sharing your experiences and thoughts. Your comments are close to the hearts of many, including me! Your comment about being good at selling your own books is certainly of importance to us. (1) We SHOULD be enthusiastic about our own work — who better? (2) Here’s a thought: Let’s all work on thinking of ways to speak and work positively on behalf of our writing without sounding strident or offensive. (Anything near to “I’m the greatest and you’re not” being a hideous example of this.) Onward and upward!

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