Saturday, April 9, 2016

H is for Humility

Breaking pattern a bit today. While I still want all of YOUR advice on where to find it, and how to practice it, I do have a bit of wisdom to add for a change...

So why is humility important to promoting books?

Lemme tell ya...

So yesterday I was on the Facebook (I live on the Facebook) and I saw something about a certain mediocre yet arrogant author... One person was trying to remember his name and gave that description and my friend knew exactly who she was talking about...

But see it almost wouldn't matter if he were talented... it is the arrogance that is grating... people who act like they have it all figured out... because you know what?

Even if they DO the rest of us really don't want to have it shoved in our face.

And this reminded me a bit of the ethos when I was first blogging. I met so many great people, but at the time (2009) there were also a TON of blogs offering writing advice. Not the “here, I learned this thing” but the “do this, don't do that” sort. Making it sound like any deviation from the advice made us WRONG.

I sort of felt like I should join the club, it was so common, but thankfully I remembered I was an entertainment model, rather than a utility model. And over time it occurred to me that all this advice, well-intended though it was, assumed we were one size fits all.

We are not.

Giving a small piece of advice here and there is great. Especially told in a “lesson I learned” way. That is SO HELPFUL.

Scarier than a Sith Lord
A full plan about how every author ought to do every single thing? Not so much.

People may be legitimate experts and they STILL don't have the answer for all other authors. We are different beings who need more of a buffet of ideas to pick and choose from than a frozen dinner plan.

That Said...

As a RECIPIENT of information, we need to humility to let what rings true sink in. ESPECIALLY specific, directed only to us, feedback.

See... we need the humility to not think we have all the answers BOTH as a helper AND as a receiver. So ask for help. Listen to help. But lets do this thing a bit more intimately if we can...

So what do you all think? Any experiences where you learned humility?
Any times you felt someone should have HAD some humility?
Any advice on maintaining humility?

Also, over on the Parallels blog today I am sharing space with Crystal Collier. We are talking about Horror (or favorite horror creature and horror in our Parallels story) So come see us!


Jan Morrison said...

I think humility is key. When we don't practice humility we are impervious to change -adamantine. If we can't be porous well then we might be like the trees in the Petrified Forest - beautiful yet dead.

M.J. Fifield said...

Humility is so important.

There was an author a little while back (I can't think of her name at the moment) who gained some notoriety for snapping (via some social media service) at a reader who asked her a question about her books. Her response was something like "Don't bother me with your questions—That's what the FAQ section on my website is for!"

And I just remember thinking, "Really? I know I don't have really have any fans who want to ask me questions about my book, so maybe I just don't know how it works, but that doesn't seem like a smart way to go about it."

The arrogance behind the whole thing just irked me, and I took that author off my TBR list completely.

Jemima Pett said...

I don't come across as humble. I must work on it, without being arrogant about it ;)
Nice post.
Jemima Pett

Em-Musing said...

Great topic! Being humble I think is one of the hardest attributes one can have. It's something I remind myself, or someone else does, on a regular basis.

Andrew Leon said...

What is this humility thing? I can't find that word in the dictionary.

In all seriousness, I do have the answer for all writers, and it's related to a thing someone said to Neil Gaiman: You don't learn how to write novels, you only learn how to write the novel you're writing.

So it's not just that it changes from person to person, it changes project to project and, every time, you have to figure it all out all over again.

So that's the answer: Figure out what works for -you- for the project you're working on.

Helpful, I know.

Sheila Good said...

Discernment is the key. I try to pass on the writing advice I have learned and I certainly hope it doesn't come across as a "know it all." When a blogger comes across as insincere or arrogant, I move on. There are far too many wonderful resources (bloggers) out there to waste time on someone who thinks too highly of themselves. Good post. @sheilamgood at Cow Pasture Chronicles

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I'm with you...I totally remember the climate in 2009 and thought it was so rigid (particularly some of the publishing industry stuff back then). So much better to have a sharing of info than decrees!

T. Powell Coltrin said...

I don't know if humility can be learned. My opinion is that its either in ya or not. I can usually tell a faker. 😜

Who Needs Inner Peace said...

Enjoyed your post. It's something local writer friends and I discuss frequently.

Arlee Bird said...

So true and well expressed. I appreciate advice from others but not if it comes across as a put down or from a lofty arrogance of "I know more than you do so you have to listen to me". If the advice comes directly from someone I recognize as an expert in their field then fine, but usually that kind of advice only comes from those sources if they are writing a book about the subject or some such thing. Why would they give me direct personal advice? I guess the bottom line is the source of the advice and how that advice is given.

Arlee Bird
A to Z Challenge Co-host
Tossing It Out

Yvonne Ventresca said...

I agree -- one size doesn't fit all, especially when it is applied to creativity.

Yvonne V

Pinky Poinker said...

While I was writing a book manuscript last year I read a LOT of books and articles on writing and I agree they were very prescriptive. One size definitely does not fit all.

PL Keenor said...

It's a good thing Shakespeare didn't read any "how to write" articles. The hundreds of new words he "invented" would probably never have seen the light of day! All the best authors are pioneers in one way or another.
That's Purrfect
AroundMy Kitchen Table

Cindy Dashnaw said...

For a time, I pitched self-published books and authors to media outlets. I can't tell you how many of these authors thought they should be on Oprah (she did her book club at the time)! Being proud of what you do is great. Being blind to the fact that only a handful of authors ever get on a national TV show is another. The authors I loved to work with the most were always the ones who were so pleased and grateful and relatively surprised at any publicity we were able to garner for them.