Ancient Sayings

One of the  great things about blogging is that while people sometimes criticize the ideas in a post, they never criticize the writing. As in, ‘this is really poorly written.’

This is good for me since I have almost no tolerance for criticism about my writing unless it’s the tiniest little pebble wrapped in oceans of velvet hidden behind a heavy drape of compliments. And even then I can’t fathom it, sitting calmly and reading criticism of something I so painstakingly crafted in the thirty minutes between finishing a project and dinner being ready. If a comment ever gave off even the smallest puffs of negativity, I’d obliterate it without even reading the whole thing. I’ve been told I’m overly sensitive to criticism.

I’ve published a couple of pieces that have brought some really vitriolic responses. I was once raw meat for a bunch of adoptees in Australia who hated me for being an adoptive mother who complained about her adoptive kids. Too bad my kids had all left home before the Aussies set out to rescue them from me. Still, as mad as they got and as lengthy, they left my writing alone. There was no ‘you’re a terrible writer’ to go along with ‘you’re a criminal for snatching those poor children from their true parents.’ No advice to go easy on the adverbs or tighten up the character descriptions. They were mum on that front. I could have written the whole piece in crayon as far as they were concerned.

It’s freeing. That idea. Very freeing. Crayons.

A long time ago, a man told me that no smart person would ever tell a woman she wasn’t a good lay, a good cook, or a good mother.

Yes, I lived in the Stone Age. It was pretty there. The caves were beautifully appointed and everyone wore furs.

Anyway, before my misogynist-hating friends and relatives get fired up about the aforementioned nugget from my friend, let me just say that I would add this: don’t ever tell a woman she isn’t a good writer.

No, wait, let me be more specific. Don’t ever tell this woman she isn’t a good writer. She would dissolve into nothingness like the Wicked Witch, leaving only empty jeans and hiking boots in a puddle of writer tears.

It’s a good thing that nobody criticizes the writing on blogs. This protects my giant but fragile ego. But it also creates an unreal world where we, the blogging nation, seem to overlook the 400-line paragraphs, the misspelled words, the strained comparisons, the precious, breathless confessions, and the never-ending self-absorption because, after all, we all write ‘what we know’ and what we know is us, right?

Don’t mistake this for a faux plea for criticism. I am only observing, not issuing a request for critical attention.

I’m way too tender for that. Weak. Vulnerable. Like a blade of grass. Don’t mow me.


17 Comments on “Ancient Sayings

  1. I did an editing course recently. When I then went back to my very early posts, I cringed at the grammar and punctuation errors in them. Oh well … that was then and this is now, and who cares?

  2. Ah, yes. The self absorption. Which I often fear borders on whining and I can’t stand whining. I never read a post that begins: “So I am so sorry for not writing for awhile”. Truth be told, unless you stand out (and you do), I usually have not noticed. Sigh.

  3. You write very well, Jan. That is why I follow you and pick you notice out of e-mail feed first. Sometimes I can overlook poor writing if the content is good – but usually if the writing sucks it is hard to understand the content. I stop reading those. Most blogs are somewhere in the middle of poorly and expertly written. I believe it isn’t our job to “grade” writing skills on blogs because this isn’t writing school. What happens instead is we don’t read those where we stumble over poorly written sentences. I’m a bit nerdy because I love to reread grammar manuals ever so often to strengthen my writing. Writing is a skill that needs to be practiced and studied.

  4. If I critiqued every blog post I read I’d never get any writing or anything else done. I just don’t bother. That being said, yours are in the top 10% IMHO, so rest assured: even if I did criticize, it would be light.

    We don’t always agree, but I appreciate your professionalism. Your posts often make me laugh and always make me think: best of both worlds.

    Best to you.

    Saly no, Sally no, Silly no, Sully
    oh, nevermind

  5. I really enjoyed reading this. Only partly because it reminded me of Raquel Welch in One Million Years B.C., (those were the days, when men were simple creatures and, er…well… ) but because I relate to your thoughts so well. I’ve always enjoyed writing but have always been fearful of criticism of it. Never more so than since I met my (ex-) wife, who was a literary genius and made me feel completely inadequate and stupid by comparison, and whose comments could crush my fragile self confidence with unintentional ease.
    I have never seen one instance where your writing itself has provoked any critical thoughts whatsoever, and as the previous comments suggest, the substance takes precedence over the medium.
    Whether I agree with everything or not is immaterial, you write boldly from the heart, and convey this with ease, and that’s what I see.
    I learn from this. And what I also like about writing here is that if I write something crappy I don’t get criticism, I just don’t get ‘likes’, which is all round a more positive experience and easier to deal with.
    Commenting on other’s work worries me more than writing my own stuff, since it has more potential to offend or garner criticism!

    • It is amazing how even the tiniest criticism can deter a person from writing. As can thinking too much about who will be reading what you write. I think that’s why blogging is so good for writers. You just write it and put it out there and, as you say, the folks who don’t like it won’t ‘like’ it. A gentle court of public opinion – that’s why I like it.

  6. In lots of ways writing is like art, self expression not everyone is going to love, especially if there are strong feelings about the subject. I’m right there with you when it comes to criticism. Should shrug it off and just think, oh well, can’t please everyone, but wow, that’s hard.

    • Not really. Maybe. But mostly I was talking about myself and how blogging insulates me from judgment except, as Dodgysurfer says, the absence of ‘likes.’ I spent a long time with 50 followers so having likes or other signs of life was normal for me. And then that changed (happily). Now I count them like $20 bills.

      • I liked your comment – is that worth $5? 😉
        There are trolls out there, apparently. I’ve seen some of my friends attacked by them and it’s not a pretty sight. If you get one and you can ignore it, you’re golden. 🙂

  7. I have been blogging in fear for 5 1/2 years. Really, I’m fearful of what people will say about what I write, because I have worries about getting my feelings hurt. I’ve seen nasty comments in the comment section of newspapers,, facebook, etc., but no one has ever been nasty to me. Maybe someday I’ll toughen up.

    • Your blog is so unique and interesting. You really rope us into thinking about history in a different way. Also, I’m a cemetery fan but not an historian like you.

  8. When we find a flaw, it is not only our desire to be polite and chivalrous which comes into play. Perhaps, we are more concerned about the end than the means – the idea being conveyed takes precedence over the words and the grammar used.

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