arrogance is a virtue (in some situations [maybe])

I’ve mentioned it on here before, but ever since I was in the third grade or so, I’ve wanted to write a book. Not a self-help book, or an inspirational book, or a biography, or anything like that. I just want to write a completely made-up story so people can enjoy it (and give me money for it). Unfortunately, I’ve found that it’s far easier to start writing a book than it is to finish one. And that’s one of my problems.  I get so bogged down with trying to make sure the plot is interesting and logical, the characters are dynamic and realistic, the concept is original and relevant, etc., that I’m continually editing, re-editing, rewriting, and completely scrapping projects rather than completing them.

But the greatest hindrance to writing a book has nothing to do with my ability. Most days when I sit down to write, I can’t help thinking how arrogant I must be to think I can write a book worth reading. Who do I think I am? I’m just a dude from Kansas, one of three hundred million people in the United States and seven billion people in the world. Why would a publisher read the first page of anything I’ve written, much less take the time to copyedit, print, design, advertise, distribute, and pay me for my book? It’s a completely ridiculous idea, and it—more than anything—keeps me from finishing anything. Because, after all, what’s the point?

My intention with this post is not to curry sympathy with you, or to coax you into filling my inbox with verbal salve for my wounded pride, so please abstain from that. In fact, I am actually arrogant enough to think I could write a book worth reading. The issue comes from having to persuade other people—particularly agents and publishers, you know, the people with the power—that this is the case. All I have to do, though, is walk into a bookstore and see just how many people have gotten their books published. Many of them—if not most of them—probably faced the same concerns that impede my progress. The primary difference between them and me is that those authors—however talented they may or may not actually be—dealt with those apprehensions and pressed on anyway. And they were rewarded with publishing contracts.

Recently I’ve been trying to change my attitude when it comes to writing from “why me?” to “why not me?” I know I’m at least a fair writer, so who’s really to say that I can’t get a book (or two) published? Granted, I may write a book, send it to a bunch of publishing companies, and receive only rejection letters in response. If that happens, it’s okay. At least then I’ll have a clear answer to the question “why not me?”

But there’s still a chance—however infinitesimally small (or otherwise) it may be—that I could write something that ends up on a bookstore shelf somehwere. The only problem is I’ll never know if I don’t actually finish something. So, if writing a book is something I really want to do, I know I need to just bite the bullet and give it the old college try (to borrow two separate colloquialisms). Failure is most certainly a possibility, but, then again, so is success.

I guess that’s the way it is with everything, and I’m really not breaking any new philosophical ground. “You won’t know until you try,” your mom always said, usually when she wanted you to eat a dish with a suspicious amount of vegetables in it. And dadgummit if she wasn’t right! So why are you still reading blog posts? Go do your thing, whatever it is, and I’ll keep trying to write a book. You may just succeed with it. But if you fail, you can always come back and read my blog posts.

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