Vanity is a negative thing. It presupposes a few interesting requirements: that you love yourself, that you have a big ego, that you think you are important. Wait a minute…isn’t this the formula of winning people? Isn’t this the precise make-up of champions? Why did we demonize it then?
Because those who enter the Vanity-level, have one more element: their message has to be important ONLY to Them! In the absence of an audience, the greatest speech, music performance, or book, is a vain effort, in the most definitive of ways – it takes place for its own sake.
Of course, human history is full of incredible examples of artistic, literary, and scientific achievement that met with no audience during its time although ‘a classic’ is what we call it today. Still, this is of little help for the modern Vain creator… Knowing that for its worth to be determined, his/her work will have to pass the test of time (sometimes it can be a Loong time..) it causes stress instead of inspiring feelings of awe and respect, both towards the audience (present and future) as well as towards his/her exercised craft.
Viewing ‘time’ as a problem, the vanity crowd attempts to turn it into an advantage, in the sense that until the final judgment, the creator has plenty of space to manipulate and influence the market, the critics, the buyers, the followers… Centuries ago it would have been called ‘unethical’ and now it is simply ‘marketing’! Don’t get me wrong, we have all used it, some more and some less. But the Vain folks are something else…
In such an environment, there is ONE simple way to know if the creator (artist, speaker, author, producer, etc) is truly vain and properly disassociated with reality, and this is to observe whether he/she is constantly paying for the events, expenses, advertisement, promotion, and distribution of his/her own work: pianists who pay from their own pockets to book concert halls or even symphony orchestras and cover the expenses of a deal with a record label, authors who pay the esteemed publishing house to release their books and hold promotional gatherings, speakers who go out and give 100 free speeches hoping to get a break, those are all ‘drunk’ individuals, intoxicated by their need to present something that currently has no demand.
This does not mean that their work never has any value, of course, and in due time, it will show if it has any. Perhaps you are indeed the next Lang Lang of the piano, or the next S. King of writing, or the next B. Tracey of speaking, and perhaps you Do need to push more nowadays than before in an overcrowded market, but you also need to have a predetermined plan regarding how long this will take… One year? Three? Ten? Insist by all means, once you know what the realistic time-frame would be, for You.
If this question is not answered, not only you will keep offering creations whose demand is evidently smaller than the supply, but you will, in addition, lower the perceived quality of your offering. Since the market is not stupid, when done over a long period of time, this kind of pushing without the appropriate return gets noticed and your work depreciates in perceived value.
All geniuses who got acknowledged during their time needed and got a good push, usually coming from themselves and their closest circle of friends and associates. What separates them from the current Vanity-crowd is that they Did see some sort of positive results as they went along, and therefore concluded it would be worth continuing. What the Vanity-crowd does instead, is to force consistently its presence in an environment that has honestly no interest.
The moment you chase and accept deals where you pay for everything and get nothing back, you remind us that you do not believe in the quality of your work enough. Why should we?