First up, book news! Lulu is having a sale! You get 20% off any order when you input the coupon code, LUCKY. The sale ends today so if you haven’t bought my book yet, hurry your ass up!
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Meanwhile, Amelia at The Frisky posted an insightful Letter from the Editor about commenting on pieces, and how it can get out of hand.
While most Frisky readers are wonderful and have valuable things to say, some comments can get nasty. I, for one, feel very nervous whenever I post at The Frisky. The readers are very perceptive and will often poke holes in my argument, so I always want to make my essays as air-tight as possible, which, actually, makes me a better writer.
I agree that name-calling and obnoxious off-hand comments (that show clearly that the person hasn’t even read the piece) are really annoying. I haven’t experienced that too much at The Frisky – then again, I don’t post nearly as often as other writers – but I experienced A LOT of that when any of my Frisky pieces (I’m Competitive, I’m Glad My Husband Cheated) ended up on CNN. I’ve been called “whiny,” “bitchy,” “bitter,” an “angry broad,” “weak,” “crazy,” and a “loser.” I’ve been told it was my fault my husband cheated, that I was manipulative, that I deserved what I got. Readers have said they “fell asleep after the first paragraph” and that they want five minutes of their life back (then why did you keep reading after 10 seconds?).
These kinds of comments are easy to brush off. They’re so extreme, all I can do is laugh. But what I hate is when what I’m trying to communicate doesn’t come across. For instance, my piece, I Found Out My Engagement Ring Was Junk, didn’t go over as well – or rather, the comments were divided. Some folks were insulted that I seemed to be calling a $2,500 ring “junk,” while others understood that it was junk only in comparison with its implied value.
But the comment that really got to me was when someone called me “selfish.”
The commenter implied that caring for a sick person one day a week was no big deal, and that I was a big fat whiner for complaining about it. Of course I shouldn’t let an off-hand comment from a stranger bother me, but it did. If you are not putting yourself out there and haven’t experienced someone trashing basically what is a part of yourself, it’s very easy to say, “Just ignore them.”
If the commenter had said, “Well, I cared for a sick person every week, so one day a week isn’t a big deal,” that would be one thing. But he exposed nothing about himself, and for all I knew, knew nothing about what it was like. But I still wish I had written something more like:
One day a week doesn’t sound like a lot, but when the rest of the time your husband is stressed out and ignores you, when he simply expects you to do this and doesn’t thank you, when you work all week, then have no down time because you have to go to your in-laws’ and don’t have the freedom to come and go as you please, one day feels like an enternity. One day spills over into the other days, and your life is no longer your own.
For my most recent piece, I’m Really Bad At Being Wrong, I wanted to be very clear and careful, but after a while, I couldn’t tell anymore if what I was writing made sense. My pal, YP (who also copyedited my memoir by the way) was kind enough to read it. He helped me clear up some ambiguous, distracting language, and asked questions and made comments that made me address issues I hadn’t thought of before, and as a result, the piece I ended up with was much better.
So that’s a long way of saying that in some ways comments are great, but they can be damaging if you let them get to you. Either way, I’m definitely having YP read all my Frisky pieces, pre-publication, from now on.