Friday, October 14, 2011

Be nice

I've been thinking a lot since a certain anonymous person tagged my SSS 17 post with a... not entirely friendly comment. I wanted to address it and say that I will not be changing my blog settings to prevent anonymous commenters.

So let's be clear, I completely respect that person for their own reading/writing tastes. There's no witch-hunt going on here. I'm not angry, upset or even necessarily bothered by what they said.

In fact, this post is going to rag on me a little, not them, 'cause I don't like spreading negativity.

 I know the style of 'Simon's Oath' (my SSS story) is not universally loved. I'm well used to getting a love/hate reaction to it and, just so you know, I am planning to cut/trim some of the description from what you SSS readers have read. Right now it's out with beta-readers and I'm waiting on their feedback before returning to the story with my blow-torch and machete.

I recently linked back to an older post of mine on voice/honesty, and I'm not going to pretend that honesty doesn't have its downsides. I have never done so intentionally, but I know I've hurt people in the past by being too blunt. Understanding where that line is... well, let's just say it's a lesson that seems to be taking my entire life to pin down, but luckily enough, an upside of being an honest person is that I'll always admit when I'm wrong.

Everyone had a different idea of what 'being honest' means, just as I'm sure not everyone would answer the same way if your spouse/partner/kid/best friend asked if an outfit is flattering on them or not.*

In my mind, if someone takes the time and effort to ask my opinion, I will try to show the same respect in return by being honest, while still maintaining a healthy coating of 'tact'.

When I put my writing up online, I'm asking a question. I'm hoping you readers show me respect by being honest and telling me what you really think, good or bad.

...and I try to do the same in return.

I think I might be one of the few SSS members who actually visits every single site** every week***. Except for the (clearly) naughty ones, I read every person's sentences. I think about them, I usually re-read them, sometimes re-vist previous weeks to refresh my memory, and then I comment with the most honest reaction possible. And part of the reason is because I love getting comments myself, especially when I can tell that someone is paying attention to my words. If you drop by, I like to know who you are, even if all you do is say, 'hi'.

I think one of the greatest things about SSS is the chance to get many different eyes looking at the same, small bite of writing. The chance for others to weigh in and say, 'I got confused here...' or, 'this sentence could be re-written to be clearer/smoother/more effective.' If I see something wrong, I always try to say someone constructive. At least, that's my intention.

I think not everyone takes this as seriously as I do... but I'm dyslexic. Reading/writing has always been serious work for me, so I can't NOT take it seriously. I get tripped up easier than most people, quickly confused, I often miss important details or nuance. You've heard the term "idiot-proof" before, right? Well, if I can get through a piece of your writing without stopping, having to back-track, re-read or becoming otherwise stuck, then your writing is just about the best it can possibly be. Congratulations, I'm your free idiot-proof-tester (or monkey), so use me.

I once was in the difficult position where I wasn't sure whether to tell a friend of mine she was using the term 'knocked-up' incorrectly. She thought it meant fooling around or messing around.

I told her (after taking her aside) because I have been embarrassed many times by my own mistakes, especially in writing.

Personally, I'm thankful every-time someone tells me I'm wrong and points out how I can do better. I want to be a writer, therefore I want to push my boundaries and improve until the quality of my work is good enough to get published.

So, for all your SSS submitters, if the way I read/comment on your work upsets you, let me know (my email address is on the 'Contact' page) and I won't comment on your posts anymore. And yes, I'm specifically talking to the SSS people because the anonymous person most likely wouldn't have commented on my own SSS post unless they were also a participant. It just seems logical...

And I offer out a blanket apology to anyone I've unintentionally hurt by speaking my opinion on your writing. Sometimes I can be too blunt/harsh, and that certainly can be the case after reading 100+ SSS entries in a row.

It may not be a problem much longer 'cause I've got to admit, all this extra thinking about negativity is wearing me out, especially today. This is why I wanted to address this subject and move on. 'Cause I've got more important things occupying my brain and energy right now.

See you Sunday.

*My husband will not beat around the bush and tells me to go get changed... and it's one of the reasons I love and trust him.
** except last week when I caught a horrible cold and barely got out of bed for days, and once in September when Safari kept crashing over and over again until I nearly threw my laptop out the window.
*** Often it takes me a couple days because I easily get migraines from repeatedly trying to prove I'm human


  1. You're allowed to come and bitch-slap my writing any time you want :} That's probably the only thing keeping in in line.

  2. ...and you would know best, wouldn't you ;) How many years have we been reading each other's writing? I think since Dec. 2008...

    ...and oh my goodness, do my comments really feel like a bitch-slap?!?!


    ...maybe I'm worse at this than I thought...

  3. Your comments don't feel like a bitch-slap, but my writing certainly needs a bitch-slap. Maybe you should take it by the throat and shake it. Oooh, or maybe I should...

  4. Heh, it's your story :) Only you have the right to man-handle/slap/strangle it ;)

    ...all I can do is point and say, 'slap here next'

  5. Hey, as long as you're proud of what you write, then it shouldn't matter how harsh some people can be. Obviously you want honest feedback, but there is definitely a tactful way of doing things. I've enjoyed your SSS posts, can't wait to read some more!

  6. 'slap here next'... Ha, ha, ha! YES. That. Just that.

  7. Hmmm... maybe I need a sign like that for my face...


    Thanks, writeidea, you totally gave me a laugh with your comments... and I sorely needed one today :) You are awesome :)

  8. I agree there is a fine line. You want to be positive, but show ways to help the writer improve. I think they will appreciate the insight.

    By the way, I read your SSS. Very captivating. You weave words together very well and your attention to detail is spot on.

  9. Li'l Ms. Monkey: Please do comment on my (very few and dwindling) SSS posts. Please. And please--really, please--be as brutally honest as you can. It's certainly not enjoyable to have one's work critiqued, but hey--it's the only way we'll improve, right? And here's the thing: I trust you, as an honest and generous person, are looking out for ME when you say something negative. You're not the kind of person to be spiteful in your comments. There are those people, unfortunately, and when you come across one, what I've learned is that you need to take things from who they come. A grain of salt, so to speak :)

    Have a lovely weekend!

  10. Thanks, everyone :)

    ...I figure, I'm always signing my name to my comments because I am taking responsibility for them. If I just wanted to say something nasty, well, it'd take about 3 seconds to sign on with a different email account and blast away.

    Maybe my wording isn't always 100% the best, but Im human. I put my time and effort into everyone's SSS pieces because I love the online writers community and I want to get to know you all better. I'm very happy to hear that I'm not making everyone angry :)

  11. Wow, I just saw this post and went back to read the anon comment. I'm all for constructive criticism -- encourage it, give it -- but that comment was, well, pretty pointless. I agree with your initial reaction, monkey. Let's be open and honest in an effort to help each other improve. But, anonymous? That's just chicken-shit.


Type me out a line of Shakespeare or a line of nonsense. Dumb-blonde-jokes & Irish jokes will make me laugh myself silly :)