Sunday, December 27, 2015

In the New Year, Befriend Your Ego

Writers and authors - those who persist - learn quickly to insulate ourselves against the demands of our egos. Rejection letters are wonderful teachers that way. So is the demand of our muse to get words on a page, good, bad, or indifferent. We learn to pacify our egos, take a few deep breaths, and plunge into the creative process.

But lately, while reading more about philosophical traditions and spiritual practices that interest me, I ponder how we can befriend our egos to benefit that creative process.

The Ego, after all, knows well how to create Drama. Conflict. Tension. Spectacle. These form the home turf of the Ego. "Look over here!" the Ego cries, as a child seeks parents to witness her first dive into a swimming pool. "Look over here! It's all about me!" But isn't that also the cry of our protagonists? And our antagonists? And often some minor characters who want to take over our stories? "It's all about me!" they call out, and by giving them our attention, we follow them on wondrous, challenging, frightening, exhilarating adventures.

In real life, the Ego's flair for drama often immerses us in trouble. But in our imaginations, perhaps we can embrace the Ego's ability to spin intricate webs of conflict, harness that talent, and use it to feed our stories.

And, perhaps, channeling the Ego's lust for drama into fiction will allow us to enjoy more peace in real life.

To all who seek the joy of storytelling, I wish you peace and love in 2016 and all the years to follow.

Elizabeth Fountain is the author of An Alien's Guide to World Domination and You, Jane. She writes stories of angels, aliens, love, and magic, told to her by her Ego and created in the world of imagination. Find out more about her work on her website, here.