Arrogance vs. Confidence - Don't be a Douche Bag

March 19, 2012

The other day I was reading Jessica Love's blog post "It's My Livelihood." Where it ticked Jessica off when a guy at a party came off snobby about the wine they were drinking and then justified his arrogance with "It's my livelihood."  Then later in the evening the guy bashed "The Hunger Games" books.  Jessica, the good YA writer she is, came to the books defense with a heavy dose of her own "Well, it's my livelihood, bee-outch!"  (She may or may not have said bee-outch.)  The point is, Jessica berated herself for being the douche bag that annoyed her earlier.  I think Jessica is wrong.  I've met her a few times, love this girl!  She's fun and positive and nothing even remotely douche baggish.

People with low self-esteem often exude arrogance instead of confidence. Arrogance belittles the people around you. Confidence inspires. I find in our little writing world a bit of both,unfortunately.  And sometimes the two are confusing.  It has taken me quite some time to learn the difference.

My first experience was once when I exchanged a chapter with a fellow writer, three years ago, to see if we would be good CP's.  It wasn't the negative this writer pointed out in my work, but it was how they said it.  They spoke down to me.  Instead of saying "Pacing slow" and why, they wrote "BOR-ING" or "Yawn.  More yawn."  Though their comments were correct, it was their arrogance that turned me off.  Not to mention when I read their work in return, I expected it to be mostly flawless.  It was the opposite of  such.

Writing is a tough business.  We should surround ourselves with confident writers, not arrogant ones. People who build you up and look after you.  If you are a new person to the writing/blogging community (which is doubling intimidating) you might first mistake arrogance for confidence. Be aware of how you feel after a tough critique.  I'm not talking about the initial, dude-I-am-not-the-literary-genius-i-hoped-to-be-and-this-shit-is-work low feeling, we all get after a tough critique.  But do you feel somewhat inspired, enlightened or maybe pointed in the right direction on what needs work?  Or do you feel tiny and pathetic to core and think you might be better at toothpick counting?

Don't let other people's insecurity make you feel small so they can feel big.  Find a core of uplifting writers and surround yourself with positive people. You will prosper so much faster in the industry and in life itself.

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  1. Well said, Dana! I totally agree--there's a right way and a wrong way to critique. And that guy at the party? I hate people like that!!!

  2. I like this entry.

    All too often, the road is littered with writers that could have been happier and perhaps even successful but for the people they listened to about their manuscripts.

    Sounds like you have refined your filters for the better, and know when to listen and when to choose your own path.

  3. Aww, shucks. I think YOU'RE pretty awesome. :-)

    You are so's all about surrounding yourself with confident writers who want to build you up instead of tear you down.

  4. One thing I would politely like to say is that I do not believe it is low self-esteem that fuels arrogance, but rather too high of an esteem for oneself.

    Years ago I read about this topic in a Harvard Medical Newsletter.

    Anyway you look at it, however, some occasions do warrant 'putting someone in their place' when they come across as arrogant.

    Arrogance typically annoys me and thus if I find myself around someone with this defect in character, I attempt to get away from him or her if at all possible.

    Many times the 'I am better than you' attitude comes out of people because of a lack of security, I believe.

    Yes, we are all in this business together and need to be careful of what we say and how we say it to one another.

    Good points on your part!

  5. I'd say there's a perfectly valid time to say "It's my livelihood," and that's probably when that sentence is synonymous with "I'm about to demonstrate some expertise here." It doesn't have to be an arrogant statement, though it definitely can be. Having read the post you mentioned, I think your friend was doing the right thing defending HG, without crossing the line into arrogant.

  6. ha ha - so funny. Love the pictures with the dialogue. I hope when I critiqued your stuff I never came across as arrogant. I loved your story. What I read of it. I still hope you finish and get it published. I want to find out what happened.

  7. Ara - It's makes you wonder if they have any "real" friends.

    Sam - I like how you put it "refined my filters" I have.

    Jessica - And thank goodness I have the crew surrounding me like I do. All you girls are awesome.

    Jeremy - I stand corrected. It's not low self-esteem but High self-esteem stemmed from insecurity. You are so right.

    Dominique - It's not the phrasing "It's my livelihood" so much as the inflated attitude in conjunction with it. I so agree.

    Mary, OMIGOSH NO! I adore you. Your comments were polite and honest and most importantly helpful. And I never had you beta that story because sadly, I moved on to my next project. But you are MORE than welcome to give me your two cents on my latest project. I shall now go throughly check out your blog to see what you've been up too. :D

  8. My friends and I have a code word for jerks like that. We call them chi-chi-utres, which translates to, asshat.


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