Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Bane of Arrogance

English: A business ideally is continually see...
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Arrogance. Yep, what none of us have. Take me for example: humble, honest and willing to grow. That is until I bombed ANOTHER writing contest.

As I judged the Carol Awards, I tried to offer constructive criticism. After all, if a writer (or anyone) wants to grow, she needs to see her weaknesses. But applied to me? My writing, is award-winning. Ask my mother.

It took me a week to look at the score sheets from the Novel Rocket contest. And what did I discover? Genuine weak spots, which once corrected took me a step closer to making my writing something people other than my daughter would read.

How can arrogance ruin you?
  1. You don't see how your writing (or any other skill) can improve. And actually be read by someone other than your husband/wife/significant (read forced to love you) other.
  2. Makes you unloveable. We've all met conceited people (no one like us), and to a person, they aggravate us and turn us off to their way of thinking.
  3. Ruins your life. Truth is truth. And if we're not willing to face it, our flaws will only grow.
  4. Ruins your life. (Yeah, I said that already). If you are arrogant, you will feel miserable when someone necessarily points out your weaknesses.
Eventually, I went through the critiques. And read the entire email. Turns out one entry was solidly good. I was told the judges believed it deserved more than a "too bad, so sad" email. The judges said they would see that book on the shelves.

As for my other work? All criticism was spot-on. I heeded the words...and some day, you will read that book, too.

Don't feel miserable--how can you shed arrogance?


  1. Carol, I'm looking forward to seeing that book on the shelf.

    Concerning arrogance, my brother-in-law made a statement that Ellen and I talked about after our visit in his home. We've got a chef friend who is quite accomplished in the culinary world. He's visiting us tomorrow (yay!!!!) and teaching a cooking class twice over the weekend. Sandy, when invited, shrugged it off saying, "I don't think I could learn anything new." Jaw drop, pick it up off the floor. He came to his senses soon enough to join us in the class (both sessions filled up fast).

  2. TY, Tom. I'm not obnoxiously arrogant--just wish everyone will see my writing merit soon. YOu have been a wonderful encourager. Thanks for visiting my blog.

  3. Guilty! I get upset when I receive less than a 4-star review. Could be because I'm a perfectionist. I wasn't happy with less than a 90% grade in school, either.

    It is hard to take criticism on anything, but your manuscript--well that's your baby. And nobody gets away with insulting your baby! It's part of you, close to your heart. Besides, you have worked sooooo hard on it. take the time to cool down, like you did, Carol, and actually read, digest, and consider the critique. Then you see how those pointed-out weaknesses can be utilized and turned into suggestions to improve your writing skills.

    My short story "Jonquils In the Snow" is one I took flack on. One reviewer gave a 3-star rating because I didn't "give enough of POV of the hero--anguish before he reached a final decision."

    At first I was hurt by the low rating, but after I simmered a day or two, I realized the reviewer was right-on. I revised the story and feel a lot better about it.

    Great post, Carol. Every writer should read it.

    1. Thanks, Laurean, and as we write, we have to realize not everyone has the same when our work goes very public, we're guaranteed to get negatives.

      Look at Moby Dick...

      Sorry, poor choice. But I did hear of one artist who liked it.

      So glad you liked the post.

  4. Yes, I'm guilty, too. My arrogance often shows in impatience with what I'm reading. I always want to skip the details and get to the point. (Francis Bacon's influence?) That method works okay in certain nonfiction, but with fiction we're supposed to relax and enjoy the ride, not worry about the destination. Maybe some day I'll learn.

    1. So true...Harry Chapin had a line in a song..."It's got to be the going, not the getting their that's good." If we don't love the ride, then what's the point?