Writing has its own way of winnowing away authors. Novels fail long before agents, publishers, critics, and the reading public have a crack at them. Those who are not arrogant enough to believe that someone might actually read their stories, simply fail to complete them. It is believed that there may be hundreds, maybe thousands of unfinished stories for every one that is completed and submitted for publication. If so, countless unfinished manuscripts must be collecting dust in every attic and hope chest.
Some subscribe to the view that manuscripts languish unfinished because of the author's lack of endurance. Granted, writing is hard work. In my life, I have worked at manual labor, as a sailor and as a soldier, as an office worker and a computer programmer, as an artist, and as a writer, and as a business consultant and a teacher. Writing is the most exhausting. Once I unleash the characters in my head they take over the body. Unbound by normal human needs for rest and sustenance, fictional characters can deplete a body's resources with impunity. Indeed, I have, on occasion found myself typing gibberish because my hands have become numb, and my fingers failed to press the keys in response to the commands of my brain. Once, I over-strained my eyes and couldn't look at television, read, or work for three days until colorful geometric shapes stopped dancing in front of my eyes. However, through it all I have completed my novel. So, it would seem that endurance is a necessary quality in a writer, especially one who writes as laboriously as I do.
I've also been blogging. Now, there's a real act of arrogance. I've been adding an average of two postings each week, and people are coming in growing numbers! Are they coming to be entertained? Informed? Annoyed? Who knows, few respond. They simply lurk. I'm not surprised. I lurk on many blogs myself.
Some may argue that maintaining a blog requires far more arrogance than writing a novel, because a blog is more often than not a fount of opinion. I disagree. Every novel is riddled with opinions or it isn't worth reading. My first novel, Rebels on the Mountain is full of them. In my opinion: (1) Fidel Castro won the revolution in Cuba despite the fact that he was not a very good military leader; (2) people excuse their shortcomings by supposing that all others harbor the same failings; (3) U.S. Leaders are rarely in command of foreign relations – they barely react to them; (4) white Americans have more self-inflicted wounds from racism than they have inflicted on black Americans; (5) Che Guevara was a humorless sociopath who used ideology to camouflage personal vendettas; (6) … need I go on. Why would I write a novel if I didn't have opinions to offer?
Some argue that arrogance is a personality defect or , worse, a sinful attitude. I argue that little would be accomplished without it. Every great edifice is a monument to man's arrogance. Every great undertaking to cure a disease, conquer a frontier, defeat an aggressor, build an industry, excel in sports or the arts, or lead a nation is the supreme act of an arrogant man or woman. To volunteer in response to any call to action requires the assumption that the individual matters and can make a difference. How does that not fit the definition of arrogance – an attitude of superiority.
Unfortunately, there is a dark side to arrogance. It is called hubris. Countless men and women have fallen victim to it. Political leaders, popular icons of the arts, and all others who rise to their positions through popularity without apparent talents and ability to sustain them, are especially vulnerable. The hubris of Adolph Hitler led him to inspire the greatest war of aggression in modern times. The hubris of recent leaders of the U.S. Congress led them to disclaim the Constitution repeatedly in recent sessions to excuse the legislation that they adopted.
Hubris is particularly virulent when people rise to prominence in one field and then attempt to expand their sphere of influence into areas for which they have no talent or expertise. Elected officials attempting to dictate the minutiae of personal lives when they were chosen to administer governmental operations, and actors becoming proponents of revolutionary ideologies, are two of my favorite examples of applied hubris. As a writer, I must pause to take special note of the L. Ron Hubbard, a pulp fiction author who founded a religion on his science fiction fantasies. Now that's hubris on an epic scale.
Pausing here to reflect, I can imagine the congregants of Scientology accusing me of hubris. It's possible that I am guilty as charged. This whole piece is, after all, simply my opinion and I'm just arrogant enough to post it.