Friday, October 8, 2010


Over at the DGLM blog, Miriam Goderich shares Hunter S. Thompson’s job application to the Vancouver Sun.

Hunter was the master of bravado, certain to himself that he was better than every other writer out there. Now, we all know Hunter was a bit off center, but he could back up his claims by writing amazing stories. Everything he did was intended to move the reader. Be it sports coverage or political manifestos, the reader felt. And isn't that the point of writing?

It got me thinking about confidence, and in particular, over-confidence. There's a fine line between bravado and cockiness. It's not a straight, solid line. For each of us, that line is in a different place. What one person sees as swagger, another may see as arrogance. What may be machismo to me, is insolence to you.

Personally, like most writers, I struggle with lack of confidence at times, and at other times, I find myself over-blown with a sense of self. I see some writers who I think I can write circles around getting book deals, and I think, "Has the publishing world gone mad?" Then there are times (especially after a particularly painful rejection) that I wonder if I should hang up the keyboard and find a job where my only creative input is which brush to use to clean the toilet bowl.

My questions to you, fellow writers and readers, is where to you fall on the ego spectrum? Do you try to keep your arrogance in check, or do you put yourself out there no matter the perception? Are you turned off by writers who think they can (and should) share their gift with humanity? Does cockiness help or hurt in the publishing universe?


  1. As one who has know you in a younger mans clothes, my opinion is that your oringinality is your strength and your purpose! Some would say that to compromise is to show humility. To them I say "fuck off". To stifle bravado is to deprive the true greatness of a man. You are truly deserving of your pride as your accomplishment as a man warrants that pride! Live large my friend and save humility for the weak and unoriginal!

  2. I sometimes get down after a reject, but when a note comes with it, I feel that I am closer to my goal of getting a novel published. In the meantime, as part of my writing journey I write in different genres and have had success that buoys me through it all.

  3. I have never had self-confidence, yet I've persisted for my entire career at writing. True, I did get published, but there were many, many years clumped together when nothing at all happened.

    So, after thirty-plus years, this is my conclusion: BRAVADO. The nature of the Beast of Writing is such that you'll be cut down and rejected plenty of times. Your job is to stay UP, and to SELL YOUR WORK.

    This is my Age of Bravado. I recommend it.

  4. Excellent points, all. Is there a line? Can you cross it? At what point does bravado become cockiness? Is cockiness bad?

  5. It seems to me that we cross lines all the time, unfortunately. It happens with love and sex (right???!!!!), and many types of relationships, but also in our personal habits like eating too much or too little, working out too much or too little, talking too much or too little. You get my drift. My goal in life is to be in balance, but I accept that to achieve balance, I'm going to get out of balance from time to time. When I do, I "correct." I guess what I'm saying is that, yup, we'll cross a line when we choose bravado. When I do, I can only hope that I have enough consciousness to retreat to the line.

  6. As Ali once Said: "It ain't bragging if you back it up." Cockiness is one mans interpretation of bravado. To their folly the beholder may misunderstand the pride of one reveling in their bravado. Do not be deterred by your intellectual inferiors! Greatness will never be acheived by political correctness. Be brave, be strong, and be proud! Know that appreciation and admiration will only come from those with the abilty to understand your gifts!

  7. I was glad to come across your writting. I envy confidence. I wish I had more. I have stories that I think could be a book. I just can't do great writting them. I started a blog, but as I read it back I want it to be better.

  8. ksf. I don't know that writing is definitely about confidence. In fact, most writers that I've meet are often introverted, very self-conscious people who read everything they write as garbage (including yours truly).

    Like any craft, the only way to do it well is to keep doing it, even when you don't believe in yourself. And I think that's where bravado comes in, even if it's false bravado. You have to APPEAR to believe in yourself, or no one else will, I suppose. Although now that I've written it, I'm sure there are plenty of examples out there of writers whose words absolutely sing who never took a chance, or never believed, even when there was plenty of evidence contrary to their self-doubt.

    I checked out your blog. If you're brave enough to put yourself out there, you're brave enough to keep writing even when you don't think you should.

    Never give up. Never stop writing.

  9. I completely agree with you, J. The only way to do it well is to keep doing it, every day ideally, but never give up. There is an agent out there who will love the work. Might not be this story, but then might love THAT story, and then you get in the door. :) Don't give up and shut the door if writing is your passion. You might be slamming it in the face of an agent just reaching the top step. :) (Yes, you may quote me with that. :D )