Since January, I’ve been writing an amalgam of personal history and random thoughts for this blog. Lately though, as I’ve gotten bolder, commenting on other blogs with more controversial topics, I’ve taken a few “smackdowns”. This should be expected as a natural consequence of our right to free speech – the right of others to think we’re not ‘right in the head’. I’ve also received some comments on this blog that sent me right down a rabbit hole, tapping into my own insecurities about making my thoughts and writing public.
I have not developed a thick enough skin and these weird collisions with people I don’t know (and who, despite my posts, don’t know me) are off-putting. This is irritatingly typical of me – a whole group of lovely, interesting people interacting with this blog and I focus on four or five boorish, name-calling comments, from people who sign in as “anonymous”, don’t have a blog and are never heard from again. I spent a couple hours in my head composing witty comebacks that only proved how insecure and incapable I was of letting things roll off my back. I went with a passive-aggressive approach, using the “Unapprove” comment button and not responding. It’s embarrassing that I don’t have a stronger constitution for insults. By strangers, nonetheless.
After spending a weekend reading, tending to home projects and visiting friends, it hit me. And I was happy when I figured it out. This was one of my goals – to put myself in a position to learn how to handle criticism, disagreement, even outright hostility. Maybe it’s my mental spin factory, but I do try to learn lessons from negative experiences. It makes me feel smarter than if I just continue to obsess about things. It’s a step in evolving as a writer and putting myself out there.
“To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.”
Elbert Hubbard (American writer and philosopher)
Many writers are introverts and I count myself among them. It’s awkward and uncomfortable to be out there, even with my middle-of-the-road musings. Blogging introduces real time criticism. To develop a readership for a blog, it demands that you stay on schedule, answer comments promptly, be able to shoulder or slough off whatever comes your way. I’ve met my initial goal of regularly writing and am now doing Blogging 201- dealing with critics. It’s hard to not take it personally, when what I write about is personal, but I will continue posting here, since for 99% of the time, it has been a great experience (it’s always that darned 1%). I’m just not ready to shut up and retreat into my dotage, apparently.
To avoid getting sidetracked by my bruised and sensitive ego, I am pushing my plans up a bit for offline writing. I had planned on focusing on a novel once my job ended, but that won’t be for a few months. If it weren’t for reading other people’s blogs, I would never have known about November’s National Novel Writing Month. It’s free participatory program, writing approximately 1667 words per day for 30 days, totaling nearly 50,000 words or woo-hoo, a novel! I’ve signed up and corralled a friend as a writing buddy.
I’m excited about it, as I’ve never written anything approaching novel length. I’m writing the outline this month and trying to figure out when I’ll schedule the time to write. Life isn’t going to slow down for my self-fulfillment, so I’d better come up with a plan.
So, enough of my whining and sulking – time to get on with the business of writing.