From the Deckplates - A Pseudo-Intellectual Wanna-be

By Senior Chief Jim Murphy, U.S. Navy (Retired)

Every author has felt the joy of seeing that first published work. We want others to experience it, and we want new voices heard, particularly active-duty voices. Whether previously published or not, we should all encourage anyone with a good idea and a desire to have it made known to seek publication.

Active-duty military status is also a concern among many potential writers, often causing discomfort when an essay would challenge leaders’ decisions or widely held beliefs. That’s unfortunate because we each owe our leaders honest feedback and constructive counter-arguments. Senior leaders don’t always receive these unvarnished opinions because they are often surrounded by yes-men. Some leaders like it that way; the good ones don’t, and they are starved for opposing viewpoints. Publication is a conduit for that communication.

Others worry about how they will be viewed by their chain-of-command and their peers. Few people in any group want to stand out as the contrary view, referred to as “the guy who wrote such and such.” There is also concern their newfound author “status” will be looked on with contempt.

Many people assume authors see themselves as above those who don’t write for public consumption, as part of the intellectual crowd, and they don’t want to be thought of in that way. This is typically inaccurate. Most writers don’t view themselves as smarter than others; they simply enjoy communicating in writing, understand the value of new ideas and opinions, and want to contribute to decisions.

One of the best compliments I’ve ever received was to be called a “pseudo-intellectual wanna-be.” It was meant as an insult, but it’s difficult to take it that way. I relish that moniker and suspect other authors would, too. When you consider the meaning, pseudo-intellectual is something I wanna be.

Merriam-Webster’s definitions for the adjective “intellectual” include “of or relating to the intellect or its use; developed or chiefly guided by the intellect rather than by emotion or experience (rational); given to study, reflection, and speculation.” I hope most of those definitions fit, but the emotional elements that drive my articles qualify me only for pseudo status.

This column is a combination of reflection and emotion. Emotion generates the ideas and the passion to write these 700 words; reflection balances that passion to create a rational look at each topic. Well, that is the goal. Readers can decide success or failure for themselves.

It is that balance of thought and emotion readers want and publishers seek. The Naval Institute and others provide myriad print and electronic outlets for potential writers who overcome any hesitation and share their thoughts. As readers, we must each encourage thinkers to write, seeking them out and imploring them to put their thoughts on paper and submit them for publication.

To you potential writers: Tap into your emotions and your intellect. Embrace your inner pseudo-intellectual wanna-be.

Senior Chief Murphy retired from the Navy after 21 years of service. He is a contributing author to Everyday Leader Heroes (Caboodle Books).


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