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tomber
08-13-2008, 05:15 PM
Writers sometimes say/think things like, "Is this any good? Am I any good? There a so many good writers better than me. I'll never be as good as them, and forget about X [a great canonized author]. What do you think? I need your opinion before I form my own."

But sometimes they think, "I can't believe they published THAT. There are so many crap books and movies and TV that I deserve a chance. I jump on AW and I'm better than almost everyone there. And the idiots I meet on a daily basis can barely speak a single sentence of proper English. I KNOW what makes good writing and therefore what I write is good. If only I could meet someone in the corrupt writing industry who had half a brain, I could prove it to the world."

Are you one or the other? Do you switch? Are you more arrogant when you're writing more or writing less? Were you more insecure when you started writing? Aren't both kinda annoying?

Notice I didn't describe the "confident" writer. Maybe that's the golden mean between insecurity and arrogance?

NeuroFizz
08-13-2008, 05:31 PM
There is a very fine line between confidence and arrogance, and when people approach that line from the confidence side, they will be viewed as having crossed it by some people, unless there are damn good (and tangible) reasons for that position. The problem, I think, comes from self-assessment. We are notoriously bad at evaluating our own talent. I'm a firm believer in peer evaulation, and the best measure of our writing talent is gained through putting our work out there for others to evaluate. In other words, movement of our confidence toward the confidence/arrogance line should be data-driven.

And whining about a lack of success due to the tone-deaf ears of agents and editors is a massive cop-out, and just feeds the kind of self-obsessed confidence that zooms beyond the arrogance line.

SPMiller
08-13-2008, 05:49 PM
Ever noticed that many books, even in your genre(s) of choice, just plain suck?

That's the old "can't please everybody" rule in action.

Agents and editors know this and live by it. When they release a book, they don't really think they can please every reader in the genre in question. Instead they hope merely to appeal to some nontrivial subset of that genre's readership.

Tish Davidson
08-13-2008, 07:25 PM
Writers sometimes say/think things like, "Is this any good? Am I any good? There a so many good writers better than me. I'll never be as good as them, and forget about X [a great canonized author]. What do you think? I need your opinion before I form my own."

But sometimes they think, "I can't believe they published THAT. There are so many crap books and movies and TV that I deserve a chance. I jump on AW and I'm better than almost everyone there. And the idiots I meet on a daily basis can barely speak a single sentence of proper English. I KNOW what makes good writing and therefore what I write is good. If only I could meet someone in the corrupt writing industry who had half a brain, I could prove it to the world."

Are you one or the other? Do you switch? Are you more arrogant when you're writing more or writing less? Were you more insecure when you started writing? Aren't both kinda annoying?

Notice I didn't describe the "confident" writer. Maybe that's the golden mean between insecurity and arrogance?

I think both attitudes are phases writers go through as they develop their judgment about what is good writing in tandem with learning what will sell. Sometimes these are the same, sometimes they aren't Eventually many writers seem to mature to the point where they know the difference and can see where their writing fits in. At that point, they stop obsessing about these questions. Of course, some get stuck on one a aspect or another. It takes time to recognize the difference between outstanding, good and workmanlike, mediocre and needs revision, and poor and needs to be pitched out in your own work. Once you get to that point, I think you become less concerned about what others think and what others write and more confident of your own niche in the writing world.

willietheshakes
08-13-2008, 07:41 PM
I don't think there's any difference between writerly insecurity and writerly arrogance -- I think they're two sides of the same coin (though I suspect the insecurity is there first).

Of course, that might just be me.

Charlie Horse
08-13-2008, 09:05 PM
The arrogance I try to keep in check. The insecurity I try to ignore. What I do try to do is write as much as I can and as good as I can.

When the time comes, though, that I'm a well-respected and much admired writer, I'll probably be all cocky as hell about it.

kuwisdelu
08-13-2008, 09:21 PM
I'm the first when I pick up a book I love and admire. I'm the second when I pick up a book that's crap.

Usually it's somewhere in between.

tehuti88
08-13-2008, 09:38 PM
Are you one or the other? Do you switch? Are you more arrogant when you're writing more or writing less? Were you more insecure when you started writing? Aren't both kinda annoying?

I'm between the two. I'm constantly belittling my own work--in fact I won't even bother trying to get it published for this very reason, I don't stand a chance--and always agonizing over whether it's any good or not. Since I can never keep readers for long I can only assume I'm dreadfully dull at writing, even though almost everybody who comments says I'm good.

That being said, I look at almost all the stuff I read online and I just can't bear to finish most of it, the grammar and spelling are so horrid, the characters are dull and flat, etc. etc. etc., I just can't relate to it as I relate to my own writing. I see writers praising each other's work but when I read it it just seems like drivel to me. I really want to find a "writer buddy," but nobody else's writing seems good enough. I find the very idea of betas incomprehensible for this reason--why have somebody else proofread my story when I'm the only one who can do it right??

In fact I sometimes think my insecurity about publishing and such comes from a mindset that my work is GOOD, but it's not the standard of good that the majority of OTHER people recognize, so it wouldn't be published by them. I see that the work other people praise is nothing at all that I would like to read myself. So there's no point in trying to submit it, since nobody likes the stuff I like!

Then I just tell myself everyone else only thinks this way because they're right, all that other writing is great and mine sucks, and that's why nobody reads my work for long, and I should really get over my terribly big head, etc. etc. etc.

So I'm fully of both camps here. And yes, both are quite annoying. If there's anything I hate it's to appear like a snob. :(

C.M.C.
08-13-2008, 09:46 PM
I'm confident enough to believe that what I write isn't complete bunk, but you'll never hear me talk about myself as being a godsend of literary genius.

Riley
08-13-2008, 09:53 PM
I've always been the insecure writer, always told myself I'd never be able to even lick the bootheels of writers like Clarke or Tolkein. I realize that's not what's important. Unfortunately, I realized it too late and now I don't know if I'm even interested in writing anymore.

I can remember, once, where I stood proud, fairly confident, certain that someday my writing would find a place--even if that place was so minuscule you needed a microscope to see it.

All writers are a little arrogant. Faced with seemingly insurmountable odds, we have to be a little arrogant, don't we? All writers are a little insecure (because arrogance is only a form of insecurity, if you care to check). Unlike a drawing, where it's hard to be blinded by your own work, when you write, it's so hard to tell if what you wrote was any good, or if it's really as awful as you think.

Beach Bunny
08-13-2008, 10:05 PM
I'm not sure how this fits in. Even though I have yet to do it, I feel confident that I can write a novel that isn't complete dreck. And I feel intimidated as hell to post my thoughts and opinions here. There are so many who have already accomplished what I am setting out to do. All I know is what I have read in books, picked up in conversations on the internet, and my own experience of putting words on a page. Most of the people here know a lot more than I do about writing. And yet, I have learned a few things along the way that might be helpful to others. *shrug* What was the question? :)

Polenth
08-13-2008, 10:07 PM
What you're describing is a way of dealing with feelings, rather than the feelings. There are pieces I feel insecure about and those I feel confident about. But I'm a laid-back person. I don't go to emotional extremes. One bad piece doesn't make me terrible in every way. One good piece doesn't make me the best writer in the world. I find the idea of making those leaps rather alien.

wrinkles
08-15-2008, 06:23 PM
Every intelligent and creative person I've ever met had these traits in almost equal measure. It has something to do with knowing your own abilities, but also having the perspective to see limits of your own abilities.

On the other hand, almost all the confident people I've ever met were not creative and not particulary intelligent. They seemed to lack the perspective to objectively evaluate themselves. Yet, this over-estimation often led to the very success they thought they deserved.

It is a puzzlement.

soleary
08-15-2008, 06:29 PM
When I'm writing, I typically feel like I'm channeling some power larger than myself. As a result, I can't feel arrogant about it. Instead, it's kind of humbling. With that said, however, I get absolutely bent when I see a book in one of my genres (business or memoir) that sucks. I typically find this with business books. Often, the crap out there is simply blowing smoke up our own skirts, courtesy of someone with a PhD who has never held a job in the industry. Soooo, disdain rather than arrogance for me.

DeleyanLee
08-15-2008, 06:39 PM
Are you one or the other? Do you switch? Are you more arrogant when you're writing more or writing less? Were you more insecure when you started writing? Aren't both kinda annoying?

Notice I didn't describe the "confident" writer. Maybe that's the golden mean between insecurity and arrogance?

I honestly don't believe fall into either category you described--and I'm not sure that "confident" writer is any kind of mix, honestly.

I'm not confident, insecure or arrogant--I'm comfortable with my own writing. Whether or not I think something might need work, I'm writing what I enjoy exploring in my stories. Sometimes I submit for publication, sometimes I don't. It's all according to what I wanted for that piece when I started and finished it. My ego isn't greatly involved so I don't see how the arrogant, insecure or any other label can be applied.

Perhaps that comes off as arrogant, but *shrug* that says more about the person who applies the label than the person it's applied to. ;)

jannawrites
08-15-2008, 07:18 PM
I try my darndest to keep my confidence balanced with humility, but I think both insecurity and arrogance can butt their heads for everyone.

Shadow_Ferret
08-15-2008, 07:42 PM
I'm on the insecure side. But even so, I still read books that are horrible and think, "mine's better than that." That isn't arrogance or confidence, it's simply knowing your own limits. It's not like I'm reading Faulkner or Steinbeck going, "what rot, I can do better."

No, I'm reading rot and thinking mine is a tad better.

JeanneTGC
08-15-2008, 10:38 PM
Every intelligent and creative person I've ever met had these traits in almost equal measure. It has something to do with knowing your own abilities, but also having the perspective to see limits of your own abilities.

On the other hand, almost all the confident people I've ever met were not creative and not particulary intelligent. They seemed to lack the perspective to objectively evaluate themselves. Yet, this over-estimation often led to the very success they thought they deserved.

It is a puzzlement.
I have met many confident people who were also extremely creative and intelligent. They were also able to accept constructive criticism and learn from their mistakes.

For me, it bottom line's thusly: If you think you can, you can; if you think you can't, you can't.

I choose to think I can. I believe that's probably the difference between those with confidence and those without -- the choice to believe in yourself.

wrinkles
08-17-2008, 03:31 AM
For me, it bottom line's thusly: If you think you can, you can; if you think you can't, you can't.



I've heard that before. I don't believe it. I don't believe the world works that way. And it shortchanges the most admirable group of all: those that look at the world the way it is and don't believe they can, but try anyway. Now that takes guts.

Woodsie
08-17-2008, 03:45 AM
When I'm writing, I typically feel like I'm channeling some power larger than myself. As a result, I can't feel arrogant about it. Instead, it's kind of humbling. With that said, however, I get absolutely bent when I see a book in one of my genres (business or memoir) that sucks.... Often, the crap out there is simply blowing smoke up our own skirts...

I can identify with this one. I've always written, never actually for someone, but it was just how I processed things. Then, after a horrible life experience, I wrote for my own therapy and learned so much along the way that I decided to put in down in a book form just in case my own experience can help others. I feel intensely insecure about putting my innermost thoughts out there for the world to see, but at the same time, I am really confident in my writing ability and that there is a place for it out there somewhere. Though, I don't have a sense of entitlement about it at all.

lostgirl
08-17-2008, 04:05 AM
I've heard that before. I don't believe it. I don't believe the world works that way. And it shortchanges the most admirable group of all: those that look at the world the way it is and don't believe they can, but try anyway. Now that takes guts.

In the immortal words of Yoda: Do or do not. There is no try.

wrinkles
08-17-2008, 06:30 AM
In the immortal words of Yoda: Do or do not. There is no try.

In the very mortal words of wrinkles. Yoda was a dummy. Trying is all there is. There is no doing or not doing.

lostgirl
08-17-2008, 08:26 AM
In the very mortal words of wrinkles. Yoda was a dummy. Trying is all there is. There is no doing or not doing.

Hmmmmm.. really.. because I "do" things all the time.

akiwiguy
08-18-2008, 05:28 AM
I'm not confident, insecure or arrogant--I'm comfortable with my own writing.


Man I love the way this is worded.

I'm not sure why, but I'm feeling like this lately. And it's got nothing to do with "oh yeah, I'm that good I don't have to feel insecure." Quite the opposite, I just don't think in good/bad terms any more.

I think my satisfaction is derived from a sense of, "I think I expressed what I wanted to. To the best of my current abilities I've created something that's as good as or better than I'd hoped."

And stuff that I can look at and say, "No, that just isn't working," is maybe part of the process.

Just my own self-observation from back whenever till now, and like everyone else I'm on some point of a continuum of learning.... I think now I believe a lot less in "inspiration" and a hell of a lot more in "perspiration". I'm not sure that writing is such a mysterious thing. We're learning a craft, and most of our flaws are not really as vague as we might think. They are very specific flaws that are identifiable and have a solution.

Sure, I guess there are whole lot of intangibles as to whether we're ever going to see real success... our own imagination, voice, style, unique way of seeing the world that's of any interest to begin with.

But I have a suspicion that a continual sense of insecurity is sometimes a result of not having an understanding of the fundamentals that would allow us to objectively assess our own work. So we have one of those "muse visiting in the middle of the night" experiences, pour out a frenzied masterpiece, and then later get that nagging doubt. Is this really that good or a load of crap? Well, without editing it is most likely still a load of crap, but perhaps has potential as a really good story. But without the tools at our disposal to figure what's good and what's bad we're lost.

Just where I'm at, and our brains all work differently.

The original topic... insecurity/arrogance. Insecurity I understand, arrogance is beyond me. I honestly don't give a shit how my work stacks up against someone else's. It is irrelevant. I want to write something that I'm satisfied with. And of course I hope others enjoy it, and that maybe it is publishable. And by the way I don't mean a smug self-satisfaction that means I don't want anyone else's objective criticism. But to continually need approval I think must be living hell, and worse still to feel arrogance when you get it.

Learn to love your own talents and treat them as your best friend I say. Enjoy the experience.

C.bronco
08-18-2008, 05:31 AM
I know I am doing well when I start giggling as I type.

roncouch
08-18-2008, 06:20 AM
I'm neither arrogant nor insecure. I attempt to improve with each manuscript I write. Writing should not be a static endeavor - Authors should continually strive to improve their craft. Input from critics is important, and we should have sufficient honesty and talent to be our best critic.