Back in December, the Guide to Literary Agents blog ran a post called “The Importance of Being (Slightly) Arrogant as a Writer”. I knew there was a good chance the article would piss me off, but I clicked on it anyway.
Here’s the meat of the post:
If you’re trucking away at a novel or short story that you dream of getting published, that implies:
(a) You think your work is good enough to merit publication (meaning, it’s comparable to or better than what’s out there, and it will rise above all other competition).
(b) You believe that other people will enjoy and find value in reading what you write.
That right there, is arrogance at its two-part core — an attitude of superiority manifested in presumptuous assumptions.
Here’s where the second part comes in: This is a GOOD thing. This arrogance is critical to your eventual success!
Now, I get what the author was trying to do here: pointing out the writerly tendency to think your work is better than it really is, which is supposed to help you persevere when the going gets tough.
But the article still made me very very cranky.
And I had to ask myself why it irritated me so much. After all, I do think I write better than the majority of people out there. But is that arrogance or simply recognition of my abilities? I’ve worked hard, as I’m sure everyone reading this has, to become the writer I am today.
To say that I’m being arrogant when I work on a project with the goal of publication is too simplistic, and frankly a bit insulting.
I go into every project with the hope that it will be published one day. That’s a big distinction. And it is that hope that keeps me going.
Arrogance implies that I’m owed publication, when really you have to earn it. And that’s what I’m doing every time I sit down to write. I'm trying to earn it.
Maybe I’m making mountains out of molehills here. Are we arrogant for trying to get published? Simply blinded by hope? Or just crazy?
Whatever it is, keep writing. That’s the only advice I’ll get behind.