Explain yourself

It’s interesting what writing can tell you about yourself, and what everything else you do can tell you about your writing.

I have a tendency to explain myself too much. I’m not sure precisely why, but I imagine it comes from how I consider myself to be a pretty smart guy, and there’s nothing a smart person (with a healthy ego) wants more than for others to know how smart they are. After all, what’s the point in being so clever if others don’t realize it?

That was a trick question, because as soon as you put it into words the answer becomes clear. If you’re really so clever, you’re clever even if no one notices – in fact, you’re even more clever if you can resist the animal urge of ego enrichment. So perhaps I’m not as sharp as I thought.

I was reminded of this by a situation at work earlier, and it in turn reminded me of some (absolutely correct) criticism I got on my novel’s latest draft. When you write, you take whatever quirks and character flaws you yourself possess and put them into your work. No–that’s true of any work, it’s just easier to see with writing because eventually someone will call you out on your bullshit.

The lesson here is that it’s all interconnected, or perhaps just that I need to stop trying to explain myself so much and let my work speak for itself. But isn’t explaining one’s self what separates hard fantasy from its more froofy sibling?

Maybe there is no lesson here. The line is fine between fiction and reality, between our work and ourselves, between too much and too little. I’ll just have to keep looking for that line, no matter how often I miss the mark.