Saturday, December 29, 2007

Writing is ... Arrogant ?

"Writing is arrogant." I don't remember where I've heard this before. Perhaps it was Ryan, The Grumpy Owl, who mentioned it to me first, and at the time I don't believe I gave it much thought, if at all. But I find myself thinking about these words every so often; they've landed somewhere in my brain and wouldn't leave. I was wondering what others are thinking about it -- is writing arrogant?

Well, on the one hand, writers assume that their word is important enough to be read. They assume they have something to say to the world that is of value (added). They assume they can teach / influence / affect people. They want their words to do that.

Then again, so does any other art form, no? Show me an artist who doesn't want his work to affect the person experiencing his art, and I'll call him on it. So does that means that art in itself is arrogant?

This concept pains me. I don't know why but it does.

Take even non-fiction writing, say articles. They have to sound authoritative to pass even the first acceptance level. Say blogs, this post. I make very strong statements and I make them in a way that sounds as if I believe I'm right (which I am, of course... :).

See why the concept pains me? Or is it me?

Take a fictional work, say a novel. You want your readers to be at the very least moved enough so they would turn the page. But you want more, no? What you really want is for them to cry and laugh, bite their nails and sigh in relief. You want them to think your words are important / interesting enough to be read. You want them to experience them same thing you do when you read a good book.

Is that such an arrogant thing to want to be able to affect people? Or is it something else?

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Anonymous said...

Of course it was me who said that.

Who else would?

Ryan Oakley said...

Whoops. Anonymous? That's not like me.

Melly said...

I thought it was you!
You just plant these seeds in my brain and enjoy watching them slowly take hold, don't you? :)

Ryan Oakley said...

Johnny Applethought.

Anonymous said...

It's possibly arrogance (or at least inexperienced youth) if a writer imagines that the rest of the world hasn't already thought of and chewed over the very thing he's writing about.

On the whole, though, if someone is just reaching out, trying to express something that he/she is not 100% sure about, hoping for someone to come along and add something to the topic... I think that's something else.

'Seeking a connection' might be the word. :-).

Welcome back!

Melly said...

My thanks, Johnny!

Oh, you have no idea how happy you've just made me. A whole new way of looking at it.
I like it!
Reaching out is much better than arrogance; knowing that in all probability someone(s) else(s) had already though about it vs. thinking you're (re)inventing the wheel.

So glad to be back.
This is exactly why.
Thanks :)

Ryan Oakley said...

That's even more arrogant.

It's arrogant to think that anyone would want to read something that you're not sure of and can apparently read anywhere else. Expecting them to add something to the topic is not only arrogant but demanding.

What makes one think they're even worth seeking a connection to?


Anonymous said...

Arrogant? No, although a writer may become arrogant. Writing is like any other art form it's a living thing, something that resides inside of the creator demanding to be set free.

Melly said...

Ryan, so according to you, speaking to other people is arrogant, no?
Don't get me wrong, I can totally see your point, but you know about me and extremes - I don't like 'em.

Easywriter, I like your take on it. Of course, should one would choose to be a devil's advocate, one could say that while art may be a living thing, it's the desire of the artist for others to experience her art that is arrogant.
But I think that's enough out of that. I think I was (mis)led down a path I now see more clearly. Sometimes a dialogue indeed helps clarify things.

So... writing, and the desire to share it, isn't arrogant. (Being inflexible with one's own ideas, though, may be ;)

Nienke Hinton said...

I think the arrogance doesn't lie in the writing or the sharing of the writing but in the expectations of what the reader should or will think. Which, I suppose, is the same thing you said about being inflexible.
Remember, we're social creatures so we're meant to share.
Storytelling - in written, oral, and picture form - has been around since the existence of mankind. It's one of the things that makes us human.

Melly said...

Nienke, to continue my devil's advocate role - arrogance is also human...
But no, I totally agree. I mean, I can also totally see Ryan's point in its absolute sense, but Absolute is best consumed in a Caesar ;)

Nienke Hinton said...

I'll drink to that!
I agree arrogance is human. I just refuse to connect it with the creation of art.