A Litany of Humility for Authors

It’s been my experience that authors and writers are a generous bunch. The vast majority of my interactions with fellow writers over the past several years has been positive. I’ve discovered support and easy camaraderie in a variety of author groups – some religious, some secular; some online, some in real life. Author friends are quick to share their experiences, advice, and sympathy. They’ll cheer your successes and bemoan your dejection, ready to boost your spirits and, if it’s within their means, your book’s success.

Author Litany of HumilitySure, a few suffer from Special Snowflake Syndrome, but they are in the minority. Some behave badly, in an unprofessional or unethical manner, but they are the exception, not the rule. I find that remarkable since creative types are often sensitive souls.

Or maybe they’re no different from those whose creativity is expressed in the hard sciences. Maybe the difference is in the product of that creativity, their art. There is something inherently frightening about baring your soul through words, images, music, or a variety of other media. Sharing your work makes you vulnerable in many ways.

I was reminded of that vulnerability – fragility even – by watching the documentary I Am Chris Farley last week. I’d always been drawn to Chris Farley. I’m not sure whether that’s because we shared the same faith, because he was “the fat guy,” or simply because that much raw talent honed into skilled performance is magnetic.

His best-know skits – the Chippendales audition with Patrick Swayze and the motivational speaker Matt Foley – remain incredibly funny. So much so that their hilarity isn’t diminished with the passage of time.

The film, which I highly recommend (for adults due to language), brings to the forefront Chris’s vulnerability despite his success. The self-doubt becomes as visible as the comedic talent. Chris Farley was more than a comedian – he was a son, a brother, and a friend. A man. What others thought mattered to him.

Media, social or otherwise, can either objectify or humanize celebrities, depending on how it’s used. Take two recent examples. Country signer Jake Owen spoke openly on Siriux XM The Highway about how reading Tweets about his divorce affected him. Actor  Wentworth Miller opened up on Facebook about an Internet meme circulated when he was suicidal. (HT: Rebecca Florence. I’d never heard of Wentworth Miller until last week.)

More so for those who achieve relative success and those few who “enjoy” celebrity status. And so, for myself as much as for my author friends, I’ve adapted the Litany of Humility.

What do you think?

A Litany of Humility for Authors

O Jesus, who taught by using parables! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed as an author,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved by fans and followers.
From the desire of being extolled by 5-star reviews.
From the desire of being honored in writing contests, awards, or competitions.
From the desire of being praised on social media.
From the desire of being preferred to other authors.
From the desire of being consulted as a bestseller.
From the desire of being approved by Bookbub and other gatekeepers.
From the fear of being humiliated by errors and poor craft.
From the fear of being despised by 1-star reviewers.
From the fear of suffering rebukes from editors, agents, and publishers.
From the fear of being calumniated by bloggers or trolls.
From the fear of being forgotten by readers.
From the fear of being ridiculed by harsh critiques.
From the fear of being wronged by publishers or retailers.
From the fear of being suspected of mediocrity or plagiarism.
That other authors may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That other authors may be esteemed more than I . . .
That, in the opinion of the world,
other authors may increase and I may decrease . . .
That others’ works may be chosen and mine set aside . . .
That others’ works may be praised and mine unnoticed . . .
That others’ works may be preferred to mine in everything . . .
That others’ works may become wider read than mine, provided that mine may reach as many souls as they should . . .


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8 thoughts on “A Litany of Humility for Authors

  1. Beautiful. I’ve also noticed that the writers I have come into contact with have such big hearts. Even though this is my first time communicating with you, from your post, it looks like you’re no exception. 🙂

  2. Twitter is the place where I experience the full range of author personalities. I love to promote other authors on Twitter, and most often, authors will promote me in return. However, some never will, and I believe those individuals are insecure and think that if they promote someone else, they will somehow diminish their own limelight. 🙁 I love celebrating another author’s success, and fortunately many of my author acquaintances do too.

  3. Thank you so much for writing this. I truly do feel it was needed for me today as I struggle with my self-doubts and concerns that I’m “not good enough”. Detachment from the need for affirmation and focus on serving instead of being served help.

    • You’re welcome, Brandy! I don’t know if there’s any escaping the nagging self-doubt, but I think that re-focusing you mention is the key. That’s humility.

  4. Lovely Lis. Very creative and thought provoking, and needless to say, the Litany hits on all of the cliffs of a writer’s self-doubt.
    Brandy Miller is so right about detachment, which humility and forgiveness bring about in the heart and mind so that they can be free to create as vessels of the Holy Spirit.

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