I really hope to God that this doesn’t backfire – I suppose I shall find out.
I am always encouraging my readers to write me comments and frankly I can never get enough of them.
This morning I got one of the longest comments in the shape of a critique of my blog and I was thrilled.
I don’t think I am breaking any rules by publishing it here since the comments are public. And I sincerely hope it doesn’t discourage you from writing to me.
My goal here is to learn from the advice but also stand my ground on things I disagree with.
This is the comment as I received it:
A friend of yours who cares about you asked me to read your blog as a courtesy and give you some feedback. Simply a friendly critique from one professional to another soon to be (hopefully!) professional. Take it FWIW. You are an earnest writer and it seems like you write form your heart. That is good. You like to write what you know about. That is also good. There is a sincerity to your tone and voice. Very good.
Yet, these seem less like blogs (something that is meant to serve and audience) and more like diary (something that is meant to record one’s one private feelings) entries. They may be a lot of fun for you to write, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are enjoyable (at least in the way an earnest writer would hope) for a reader to read.
I am assuming that you intend for these to inform and entertain with intelligence, emotional depth and feeling. Sometimes, they start off like that but then end up being self-serving. And just like nobody enjoys reading someone’s diary entries unless it is to glean gossip and salacious details- an impulse that comes straight from our impulse to look at car wrecks- Nobody wants to partake in something self-serving for too long.
As a writer you want readers to sense your empathy and have empathy with you. This way, they feel like they are on your side. When you enter a space where you play yourself as a victim at the hands of horrible men, or where you somehow make yourself seem better than the men you date, while your own confessions might seem reactive and caustic, you enter a territory where it seem like unhinged ramblings. This makes your readers empathy and interest turn into a voyeuristic thank-god-im-not-that messed-up impulse. When that happens they stop trusting you. Or they only tune in for the outrage. Much like many of us (excluding me!) watch the people misbehaving on reality TV shows.
Now, if your intention is to paint yourself as a 50-something car wreck- which I assume it is not- then it’s fine. But I get the sense that you start earnestly and then give in to your impulses and your writing starts to lose focus.
Car crashes are fun to look at but nobody wants to be anywhere near them!
You want your readers to feel like they’re sitting with you and sharing your experience, and not looking at it from a sanitary distance.
If every time someone doesn’t behave the way you expect them to, and you reduce them to either “a motherfu**er” or “an a**hole” while winking and smiling at your own self-admitted bitchiness, intolerance or impatience, you come off as someone very, very thin-skinned and self-entitled. Think Donald Trump.
Writing is much like cooking: you want the people you’ve cooked for to feel satisfied and full! Sure occasionally, there’s a piece of junky, tasty indulgence, but ultimately they need to trust you and feel your empathy for the world to blindly put your creations in their mouth. Same goes for their minds.
Things I would like to see improved:
-Less “cutesy” self-congratulatory stuff. Self-deprecation is funny. Self-congratulation is annoying. Check out Philip Lopate’s essay on humiliation essays.
-Less victim-victor dynamic.
-Much less lashing-out — Makes you seem like an unhinged crazy lady. YOU DO NOT WANT THAT BECAUSE I DON’T THINK YOU ARE THAT. You don’t want your readers to think… “No wonder she’s in her 50s and can’t find anyone to stick around!”
-Fewer selfies! Very narcissistic.
-No feet! Ew. Just ew!
Hope this helps.
First time I have been compared to Trumpy!
I am not a 50 something year old woman who is desperate – I shall be 50 soon enough, but never desperate.
I agree that you could call this my diary as opposed to a blog.
I relay my stories as I have experienced them. I have NEVER called all men assholes. I make sure I share the happy, loving stories of which there are plenty.
I put up selfies because I cannot put (or will not put) up pictures of the men that I am speaking of. For some reason I feel that when I put a picture, I get more traffic on my blog. Maybe it personalizes things or maybe it does nothing. But till I get a better idea, lots of selfies – it is going to be.
According to the writer of the comment – my entries don’t seem to serve the reader. My way of doing that is by hopefully being entertaining, or even a cautionary tale. That’s fine with me. I can and will never make this a how to blog – because clearly I don’t know how to. These are merely my experiences and how I chose to deal with them. They are not always pretty and that’s because my life is not always pretty.
Lastly, my formal response to the writer in the shape of a comment:
I thank you for your feedback. I shall definitely take it into consideration
About the selfies, I noticed that a picture attracts people to the posts. And since I can’t put a picture of the person that I may be talking about – I am left with the selfies.
I would love to know who this caring friend is so I may thank them
In the meantime, I thank you for taking the time to write me
Would love a link to your writings and good luck with your pursuits
My dear readers, please please let me know what you like and dislike about my writings. I get a lot of comments on the pages I post on (mostly on face book, instagram, etc. )
If you are holding back, if I irk you, if I make you laugh – I want to hear all of it.
Until I date again!