Ego is a motherfucker. At least it can be if you aren’t too careful. I say this as someone whose profession (fantasy author) requires ego to function. You have to be egotistical enough to believe that what you’re putting down on the page is something special enough that someone else (hopefully a lot of someones) is going to want to read. Let that ego consume you though, and your work will suffer. You won’t see the flaws in your writing that need to be improved, you won’t be able to take feedback or apply it to the page. To be a good writer, in my opinion, you need a perfect blend of ego and empathy. Empathy drives good character writing and while folks might come for the story, they stay for the characters. That blend of ego and empathy is something I think about a lot, because it doesn’t maintain balance, it oscillates and you have to be ever vigilant to make sure ego doesn’t tip the scales over.
Like pretty much everyone else, I had a lot of at-home time this past eighteen months and one of the more constructive things I did was rewatch the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in preparation for WandaVision. What struck me throughout was the ways in which ego plays a pivotal role from the very first scene in Iron Man through to the penultimate climax of Avengers: Infinity War and finally, that incredible scene with Tony Stark and Thanos in Avengers: Endgame. I could write an entire series on ego and the MCU, but three heroes really stood out to me in the ways ego did (or didn’t) impact their character arcs and the world around them. Peter Quill, that 80s wannabe-David Hasselhoff meets Kevin Bacon; Wanda Maximoff our sitcom, spell-slinging heroine; and the figure that kicked things off and snapped his fingers on the curtain call: Tony Stark.