by Toni L.P. Kelner
My friend Jenny recently saw talented thriller writer Jeffery Deaver give a talk, and came away from it amazed by how humble he is, given his level of success and fame. She suggested that I might want to blog on the idea of being humble.
I immediately responded that I'm never humble about my writing.
I meant it as a joke, but it really wasn't. I'm not particularly humble about my writing.
Honestly, I can't afford to be humble. This doesn't mean that I think I'm the best writer ever, or even in the Top 10 or Top 100. But I do think I'm a very good writer. Some days I even edge up toward excellent. I don't think I could keep writing if I didn't believe that. I wouldn't be able to make myself sit at the keyboard every day if I weren't convinced that I have talent.
I certainly couldn't publish my work with a humble attitude. After all, every time I stick a piece of writing out there--including this blog post--I'm tacitly stating, "It is worth your valuable time to read this." That is not a humble view of the world.
Still, there are two writing-related areas in which I am humble.
One, I am humble about the many opportunities I've been given to publish my work. There are a whole lot of very good writers out there. Some of them can't find a good publisher. I'm on my third. Some writers have success in one field or with one character, but can't sell different kinds of work. I've published two series, and have a contract for a third; plus I've been able to sell a lot of short stories; plus I've co-edited anthologies with Femme Charlaine. Some writers never get awards attention, but I've been honored with several nominations and some precious wins. So yes, I believe I'm a good writer, but I'd be a complete idiot not to recognize that I've been extraordinarily lucky, too.
Two, I'm humble about what I can't do and what I haven't learned to do yet. I don't know how to write thrillers or screenplays, and I don't think pacing is my strongest suit. My fight scenes don't hit as hard as they could, and I've only written one sex scene and it was hard. (Yes, both of those puns were intentional. I have no illusions about my ability to pun.) I'm not particularly lyrical with my writing. In short, there's a whole lot of room for growth. So I do, humbly, try to improve and sometimes I just have to admit my limits.
So for Jenny, I can only end by quoting the Mac Davis song, "Oh Lord it's hard to be humble, but I'm doin' the best that I can."