The Other Side of Humility
I just posted about humiliating your heroes. It occurs to me that it’s not just heroes who benefit from an occasional dose of humility. Sometimes you have to put yourself out there and risk personal humiliation. Not an appealing prospect, is it? No one likes that feeling, but there are times when a lesson in humility can be helpful to a writer. It’s part of the kaleidoscope of emotion that make up humans and, to be a really good writer, you have to use them all.
The feeling of being slightly off-balance comes in handy when you’re plotting a murder mystery. I don’t think I’ll ever go as far as murder, but’s not too hard to imagine humility mushrooming into a sense of total inadequacy, and I’m convinced that a sense of inadequacy is at the heart of most crimes. Think of the usual motives: greed, lust, jealousy, revenge, shame. All have at their core a feeling of being not quite enough – an emotion most of us experience at least occasionally. I know I do and, as much as I hate the feeling, experiencing it helps me empathize with my villain and make him/her a fully-rounded character, someone the reader may not like, but will believe.
Fortunately, there are people in my life who are quick to reassure me that my good qualities outweigh my shortcomings. And that is something I acknowledge with grateful humility.
People who grant unconditional acceptance are a wonderful gift – one that I wish I could guarantee to every person on this planet. It might not wipe out crime. but I’m willing to bet it would reduce it dramatically.