Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thin-Skinned

I could be so mean. I will keep a tight rein on today's post.

While surfing blogs a while ago, I happened upon a lament concerning the content of proposal letters. The blogger wrote nothing I haven't read before. Based on reader comments, my experience was typical.

Until Anonymous posted. Anonymous was offended. Anonymous believed the blogger had taken his/her proposal letter and displayed it for the purposes of ridicule (how that was possible is a mystery, and since Anonymous used the tag Anonymous, it could hardly be proven).

No names were mentioned by the blogger. The sentences used were completely generic examples I've read in books on writing. But Anonymous was mad.

I once "liked" a FB page "some people just need a good smack."

The blogger was polite and professional with Anonymous. The readers were mostly polite and somewhat understanding of the hurt feelings.

I maintain "some people just need a good smack."

I wanted so badly to write an answer to Anonymous (I guess I am), but the answer chosen by the herd seemed to be acknowledgement of feelings followed by a good dose of "moving on."

Mary DeMuth says a writer must be thick-skinned with a tender heart. Dare I say it yet again? It isn't all about you. Except you, My Dear Friend. It's always about you.

Anonymous got his feelings hurt for no reason. Toughen up, dude. You're making a spectacle of yourself.

TT: No reader posted such a comment. They were all so polite, I wish they were my Friends!

We've seen Anonymous' hypersensitivy. Let's look at the kind reactions of blogger and readers.
These nice folks understood how easy it is to take it personally. Maybe they'd been there. Maybe they're just that empathetic.

I got annoyed with his annoyance.

Part of the Curse of Natural Ability is impatience with those who do not share that natural ability. While I am deeply grateful to those who have encouraged me in the writing journey, I lack the innate first reaction of encouragement to others.

Anne Lamott uses an illustration of a writing class where a newbie gets up and reads complete tripe. After a moment of stunned silence, the class praises the good parts they can pick out of the mess. One lone dissenter, after listening to this, asks "are you all crazy?" and proceeds to list every technical flub in the piece. Anne thanks her for her honesty and reminds her we're all learning and the point is to keep trying.

It's a good point.

Most people can draw until they get to school, start comparing their work to someone else's and get discouraged. The fact is, you won't write like me. I won't write like you. That's okay. If we were identical, one of us wouldn't be necessary.

I am learning to relax my "only this way to write is right" attitude. Must be hanging out with all these spec-fic authors. No, they don't sound like Jane Austen. That isn't their goal.

Fortunately, the ability to encourage is something I can learn. I don't have the natural talent, but I'm practicing the skill.

And, Anonymous...well, in the interests of practice, have a cookie and try again tomorrow.

2 comments:

  1. Ha! I take a look at some of my earlier attempts of writing and know God had mercy on me. What I mean is HE surrounded me with all the right people to not only encourage but nurture me. I am but an infant writer in comparison to many of my friends. Being a jerk to other writers serves no one, certainly not God. There is a way to help without knocking someone to the ground.

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  2. You are one of those kind and understanding readers I mention. You're neither thin-skinned-easily-offended nor a jerk. I can be taught, and yours is one of the examples I follow.

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