What a strange thing one's ego is. It's an issue i've been giving considerable thought to recently. Firstly it was the dominant theme of a newspaper feature on Toby Young; then, in a piece in the Evening Standard magazine it was the spine of the story about some posh, rich twat called 'Lord' Eddie Davenport who apparently is desperate for the world to know how rich and twattish he is; it also seems to play an important role in explaining the dynamics of a new play I'm reading called Frost/Nixon about david Frost's interviews with Tricky Dicky after he resigned the Presidency (should that be capitalised? je ne sais pas).
My point, however, is - as it naturally should be - all about be. Yesterday I discovered I was to get a byline in today's Observer for an article I helped with about meethan emissions from Siberian thaw lakes. Sounds faaaaascinating doesn't it? (I can't find a link to it on the Observer website sadly but that's not really what I'm talking about anyway.)
I was, as any writer would be I suppose, very excited about the idea of seeing my name in print after just a single week's work experience. In a fit of "Raaaahh-ness" I then proceeded to sent an emmail out to, well, pretty much everyone, informing of my literary triumph. And then pretty much regretted it instantly. And then have been spending intermittent periods since wondering if I should be regretting it. Overwhelmed by internal conflict you see.
My first problem is simply the fact that I didn't really contribute that much to the story. Robin McKie found the original in New Scientist magazine, I just did a bit more research on the subject - the global warming potential bit is me - and composed a straight news piece on the subject which Robin used as a foundation for his more dramatic, more wordy, more Sunday newspaper version. My overall contribution was pretty minimal.
So I felt like a bit of a fraud for that. There's so little of me in the piece that I can't claim any credit for it. It was almost the same when I wrote stuff for the Georgetown newspaper last year. if it was in anyway edited, or if there were phrases in there that I knew weren't mine, - even if they improved the piece - I'd feel far less of an attachment to it. Almost like a father, informed that the child he'd been a loving and devoted parent to for years and years wasn't really his. He just can't love it as much. okay, it's probably nothing like that.
My second issue is with the fact that I felt compelled to inform all and sundy of my achievements at all. Who am I doing this for? Them or me? Who (or why?) do I want to be a journalist anyway? Public acclaim, respect, glory? I didn't think so before but now I'm starting to wonder. I write because I feel I have to. because I can't imagine not writing. That's what this
blog's for. I'm not really fussed if people read it or not - although obviously I used to email people when it was updated - but it's nice when I find out they do. It's like a diary I suppose.
Except it's not quite like a diary is it? It's in a public forum where anyone can stumble upon it, whether deliberately or not. There's writing which is done for public consumption and writing which is private. Before the internet it used to be that black and white. These days I don't think it is. Bloggin is a free expression because, in all honesty, it's unlikely that anyone's going to read. Keeping the reader in mind is less important with this so I can pretty much say i what i want. it's a form of free - but not completley free - expression.
If I write something in the Observer - for sake of argument - or anywhere else surely I want it to be read and surely I should be entitled to inform people that it's out there. That, I think, is okay but equally that is the source of the problem. I didn't really write the thing. it's just my name at the top. So really all it is about is ego. And wanting people to see my name in print in a national newspaper and say how great they think I am.
And that leaves a nasty taste in my mouth.