I’ve talked about this on my blog several times because it’s an issue for me. Others might relate, I don’t know, but I’ve gone through life with this attitude of entitlement that if I create something, PEOPLE SHOULD NOTICE IT. I’m not sure where this comes from. I often wonder if I’m pounding this into my child as she grows up — if by the fact that she’s a single child and gets so much attention for every little thing she does, if I’m somehow teaching her that her whole life (with anyone) will be that way. When obviously it won’t. Maybe everyone deals with this. I know I’m not the only author who has felt offense when close friends and family don’t read what she’s written, let alone recognize it.
The good thing is, after dwelling on this subject many times, I’m finally to a point where I’m over it. Mostly. Okay, it comes back full force sometimes. Once in awhile I’ll find myself getting all huffy and puffy with the entitlement attitude, and I have to stop and back up and give myself another talk and slap upside the head.
Since I just recently released another novel into the world, I’ve found myself slipping back into old habits and becoming bitter all over again. Life is tricky, at least for me. I find myself constantly trying to keep my pride and humility nice and healthy, but pride can easily slip into a sense of entitlement, and humility can easily slip into self-hating. When I’ve let both slip, I’m a mean, nasty human being. Just ask some of my friends who let me complain to them when I’m in this sort of foul mood. They are true friends if they still like me after that.
All I’m saying here today is that when it comes to your writing, unless you’re paying someone for a service, nobody owes you anything. I’ve learned it’s important not to make others feel obligated for anything. I humbly ask for help when I need it, like when I release a book and am unable to pay for marketing, so ask others to spread the word if they feel so inclined, but I try to make it clear these days that I don’t expect anyone to do anything for me out of obligation. My family should not feel obligated to read any of my books just because they’re related to me. My friends should not feel obligated to ready any of my books just because they’re my friends. Other published authors connected to me should not feel obligated to read my books just because they know me and we’re connected through “being published”.
I’ve found, most of all, that if someone reads something else out of obligation, they’re much more likely to harbor negative feelings toward it, no matter how good the writing is, simply because they felt obligated. Why would I want that? I don’t. I think I’d rather have a very, very small circle of readers who genuinely appreciate my writing rather than a gigantic circle of readers who feel obligated for some reason or another.
It’s nice to be admired, noticed, and appreciated. It really is, but to seek after those things is something I’m learning to back away from more and more. Those kinds of things come in time, and with hard work. They are byproducts of healthy (key word: healthy) relationships with friends and family, and let’s not forget, dedicated fans. Those healthy relationships take time and effort and a good dose of selflessness.
Harsh words, maybe? Or harshly true? All I know is that a sense of entitlement is a very bad thing when it comes to writing. Erase that, and a writer is much more likely to find lasting happiness in the tough world of writing and publishing.