Wednesday, 1 July 2015
Art, Opinion and Arrogance
Amongst the several people who read this blog is my mother, who has occasionally said some very kind things about what I’ve written (thanks Mum!). However, when I encouraged her to start a blog of her own, she demurred; saying that writing a blog seems rather self-indulgent (thanks Mum!). And of course, she’s not wrong.
It is indeed self-indulgent, not to mention supremely arrogant. I’m writing down my Very Important Thoughts on a variety of topics, as though they’re worth writing down, and as though I think people would actually want to read them. Worse, I usually post a link to my posts on Facebook, and even if my friends don’t actually click on the link, they at least get to know all about the fact that I am pontificating about something.
Although the things that I write about are purely my own opinion and point of view, I daresay that I frequently write as though my opinions are objective and incontrovertible facts, and I’m sure I come across as very pompous and self-important. I try not to be, but I’m fairly certain I fail.
Perhaps even worse than when I am sermonising and pontificating is when I dare to inflict my writing upon you; my random silly poems and chunks of short stories, and tell you about my NaNo-ing, as though anybody but myself would care about it or want to read it.
The thing is though, that this arrogance is (in my opinion, of course) at the very heart of writing, music and art. To some extent, it is simply self-confidence, but ultimately one gets to a point when one looks at one has written, or composed, or painted and says, “You know, this really isn’t half-bad. I think other people would really enjoy reading/hearing/seeing this!”
Once, a great many years ago, I submitted a short story on a website, and on the forum I apologised in advance for its quality (or lack thereof). Another poster gave me a thorough telling off, saying that I ought to have more faith in my own ability and be proud of, and stand up for what I’d written (while of course remaining open to criticism and be prepared to admit its flaws). Good advice, which applies just as well to any other form of art or writing, even when it’s just your own opinions.
I like to imagine that my opinions are reasonably well thought out, and have some merit of their own, even though I freely admit that that is all they are; my own opinions. I think that some of my pieces of fiction are really quite good, though I say so myself. At least, I would enjoy reading them if I hadn’t written them and spoilt the endings for myself, and that is really the only measure of quality that a writer or artist can use. “Is this funny? Well, I find it funny, so I will assume that other people will find it funny too.” I am arrogant enough to assume that they are worth publishing and that others might be interested in reading them, if only to try and get a better understanding of me and what I think (and whether they really still want to be my friends on Facebook).
The line between arrogance and confident self-expression is very fine indeed, and I have no doubt whatsoever that I do cross it, although hopefully not too often, but unless you wish to remain silent your whole life, you have to believe that what you have to say is not only worth saying, but worth hearing. No one should hide their light under a bushel, and there is no-one who doesn’t have at least a little light.
And in my opinion, that’s objective and inconvertible fact.