Monday, February 9, 2015

Good Enough, Except in His Own Country

Please forgive me if this sounds cynical or egotistical; I don't mean it to be. When it came to sharing some of my writing with others, I would say that the best way to summarize what I learned is a direct quotation from the New Testament:

"A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house." (Matthew 13:57)

Or to put it in other words, seeing how I am not a prophet, a writer is also not without honour, save in his own country, and especially in his own house.

Photo from

I would normally omit most of the following experience, but as this post is about the experience of sharing, I suppose I should be honest. And I should admit that -- contrary to my expectations -- this exercise was very disheartening for me.

I have been writing in a personal blog for some time now, and I have been using the Notes app of Facebook since 2008. Occasionally people read the things that I've written. On rare occasions, they actually leave a sign of such by giving a Like or commenting. Sometimes it takes years before that happens, yes, but it does happen. Sometimes. And so I thought that this exercise would not be much of a challenge; all I had to do was what I do already, and specifically encourage some feedback.

Of course, since I don't exactly have friends in Provo -- or at least not the variety of friend that returns my calls -- I had to turn to the pseudo-friends of Facebook to ask opinions. It took a few days, some begging, soliciting, and my own mom declining to comment, but I eventually received some feedback.


...Well, not so much.

In general, I can take criticism. It may not make me happy while I receive it, but given time, eventually I can appreciate when someone is right about things I could improve. However, uninformed criticism, the kind of advice that I know would further weaken my writing if I followed it, that's a little more frustrating. For this assignment, the latter form of criticism is what I received from the two people who shared comments on my work. I don't know that mentioning specifics really adds anything to this post. All I will say is, they criticized my strengths and praised my weaknesses.

If there is one thing I learned to apply as a result of this assignment, it would be that I have to give some serious consideration to the style of writing that I do. My friends' reactions -- especially the lack thereof -- tell me that overall, people either don't care about what I write, or they don't understand my writing style... at all, really. So, seeing how I don't currently have the option of quitting writing entirely, maybe I need to consider what people actually want to hear from me.

That, or I will continue writing to nobody I know; when you fail at that, you've actually succeeded.

1 comment:

  1. I identified with a lot of this. First, receiving criticism at all can be discouraging even though we try to pretend we're hardened adults and we can take it. It can be hard to open ourselves up to become better through their comments.

    BUT sometimes we ARE a little justified in feeling discouraged. Like you pointed out, sometimes people give uninformed feedback. If you don't mind me sharing, a creative writing professor of mine (now an author if 3 novels and counting) once told me how she tried being in certain critique groups, but they tried to change her work. They didn't understand what she was trying to do. She has a very unique style. She doesn't write in paragraphs. She doesn't follow a normal plot line. She doesn't use quotation marks. Other people saw this uniqueness as her flaws, but they've become her strengths as people have read her work and like the writing she does.

    So, you might be right. Maybe you just haven't found her audience yet. Keep on truckin'.