Friday, February 05, 2010

Chutzpah - Do You Have It?

My Canadian Oxford Dictionary says chutzpah is a Yiddish word that means 1: shameless audacity; cheek and 2. boldness. I wonder if writers need of it more than other people do. There are so many times when I could benefit from being audacious. Is the work ready to send out? If I have honed it past a fare-thee-well, then likely it is. But, I still hesitate. There are no places to take chutzpah lessons because, while there are assertiveness classes chutzpah is more than being assertive. There's no exact English equivalent for the word but I think chutzpah is more illogical than mere assertiveness. It's being bold in spite of the odds. Consider the number of rock singers with much more urge to flaunt themselves than talent or the men wno run Ponzi schemes.

I've been thinking about this more of late, thanks to a book I picked up: How to Become a Famous Writer before You're Dead (Your words in print and your name in lights) by Ariel Gore. She has more chutzpah than any writer I know, and maybe she has more of it than of good sense. But then, when did good sense ever lead to well, seeing your name in lights - or even in a respected literary journal. Gore has a lot of fun and presents a lot of off-the-wall ideas.

In any event, among her many suggestions for becoming a brazen self-promoter, there is one I'm considering. Start a zine she says. Now, I don't know how to do that, and I'm not very web savvy and there are likely many good reasons why I shouldn't even think about it. On the other hand - I know some writers, I know how to edit and I know it could be an adventure.

Do you have chutzpah?


Angela Addams said...

I don't think I have it not in quantity anyway. Usually when I'm trying to self-promote it comes across as being pushy...too pushy...and people don't like that. I do have a blog and I tweet; I take promo opportunities when I find them. Is this sufficient chutzpah? I don't know...time will tell.

Susan said...

I don't think I have a lot of chutzpah either, but I am developing more confidence, so who knows where that might lead? Thanks for the reading suggestion; I'll add Gore's book to my list.

Anonymous said...

I don't chutzpah jumping in with both feet despite the consequence of rejection? Then I guess I have it - according to my wounded ego :)


Jess said...

Despite the fact that writers SHOULD have more chutzpah, I wonder if it's less likely that they will! I don't think I have enough, but maybe I can earn more by being bold in smaller doses.

Then again, maybe even sending your babies off with possible rejection is in definition, having chutzpah.

Interesting post. :)

D. B. Reynolds said...

Hmm. Maybe a little chutzpah is necessary to a writer, especially since we tend to be solitary folk who sit at our computers for hours, all alone writing. And then the book or story or whatever gets accepted and suddenly it's up to us to promote the darn thing, which essentially is ... bragging.

I often feel the way Angela said, like I'm being pushy, because promoting myself doesn't come naturally. I'd much rather be back on my computer.

So, maybe a little chutzpah IS a good (and necessary) thing in a writer.

PS I'm not sure creating a zine is the way to become a writer. More like an editor. But that's just me.

Ken said...

At this point in my writing career, I think I possess more chutzpah than common sense or experience. It probably comes from my lifelong career as a Soldier and our tendency to 'go bold' whenever possible. Hopefully, my experience-to-chutzpah meter will invert and I will eventually sell a book.