Saturday, August 24, 2013

One of the seven deadlies

I've been pondering the concept of pride recently. I mean, I embrace it, as I do all of the other Seven Deadly Sins (hello, we're evil!), but I find some people's use of the concept a bit odd.

To me, I think you should only be able to take pride in things that you've accomplished or had a direct influence on. But so often, whenever you achieve something, people tell you "I'm proud of you."

That phrase makes sense in certain situations. Parents, upon seeing their daughter graduate from college with honors after they've instilled a love of learning in her. To a teammate who you assisted in scoring the winning goal. But when it's something like you've lost 10 pounds and a random friend tells you that they're proud of you?  Are they taking credit for your weight loss?

It makes it sound like they're taking credit for what you've accomplished, when they tell you that they are proud of you.

I suppose it could be the inherently selfish nature of human beings... a way to say "Congratulations for what you've achieved, but really, let's focus back on me."

Or I could be totally overthinking the matter, but it just strikes me as odd. And maybe no one else notices that.

But it got me thinking about writing and how things that may seem innocuous or totally normal can be taken entirely different ways by other people. Some of it's cultural background that leads to changes, some of it is education, or a variety of other factors that influence how we interpret the world.

So who do we write for? The lowest common denominator? Dumb everything down so that even the dumbest among us can get it? Or do we sacrifice a few readers and keep things at the lofty level that we aim for?

I think the answer depends on what kind of thing you're writing, who your target audience is, and how snobbish you're feeling at any given moment. Yeah, I occasionally have the urge to write brilliant prose that will be studied alongside Oscar Wilde in years to come. The chances of that happening are slim, however, and if I aim for that, I'm most likely just going to sound pretentious. But that doesn't mean I shouldn't try for it sometime. But like most misunderstood geniuses, I may not get the popular opinion on my side until well after my death. Maybe I should aim more at the reality-tv-watching, beer-guzzling, NASCAR-watching middle american that makes up (apparently) so much of the population.

I guess I'm just going to write whatever the hell I feel like, whenever I feel like it. And you can all be oh so proud of me.

1 comment:

  1. Melinda, I'm proud of you. This post is very thought-out (perhaps too much so), and showed me another way my pride in my friends' accomplishments can be seen. This is very interesting, since that view had never entered my head before. I'll have to be sure to give it some thought in the future. But enough about you, let's talk about MEEEE! ;-)

    But really, thank you for a very thought-provoking post.


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