Tuesday, February 17, 2015

I'm Conflicted

Sorry this is so late—it took me longer to get feedback than I’d anticipated.

After expanding and revising my 500-word post “Working Alone” into a 700-word version, I took a deep breath and gave a general invitation to my Facebook friends (many of which I haven’t spoken to in years and a few I’ve never even met in person) to read and comment on my personal essay. One friend (who’d never read any of my writing before) gave several comments; some of them brought a smile, and others have me pretty conflicted.

One positive comment: “Paragraphs are different lengths, you varied sentence structure. All those things people usually forget, you didn’t. J” On the other hand, she’d noticed some grammatical errors. I can handle that—it’s easily fixed.

The comments having to do with content warrant more attention. The plus side: “I like the flow of the paper; the story. It starts off that it’s better to work alone, then you want to be with someone who never appears, and you realize that being alone is, let’s face it, lonely, and in the end you prefer company. It travels and develops.” But then she added, “[I]t’d probably be good to make this more apparent or transparent. Make that theme (if that is the theme) clearer.”

I dunno about this. On one hand, if my readers think something needs to be clearer, then maybe I ought to oblige. But I don’t want to be heavy-handed in my writing. Where’s the art in handing someone the moral of the story on a silver platter? One of my main goals in this essay was to depict the dichotomy of aloneness subtly but perceptively. So far, each of my readers (including the one who made the above comments) have caught this theme. Should I take that as a sign that I’ve made said theme clear enough, or do I need to grit my teeth and make some changes?

Thus I am reunited with one of the aspiring writer’s most troubling questions: “Must I place greater trust and priority in the thoughts of my readers than in my own?” 


  1. I like your comments about how you aren't sure how much to listen to the readers. I think that there is a better balance of listening to the readers and acting on what they say. Over all this is your personal essay and though it is important to listen to our critics it is also important to write how we meant it to originally be! great post! thanks!

  2. I think it's interesting you came to this dilemma. I have found that when people engage with your writing in a productive way, they are showing you respect. They have found your writing engaging and interesting enough to respond, it has caused them to think more about one aspect or another and they want to have a conversation. It is when you don't get feedback or critique then you should worry. I think it's a great sign they're picking out the theme, but ultimately, it is how you want to tell the story.

  3. I love your ending question. Love it. Not going to try and answer it, just love it. :)

    But I would say, you can ask other people that read it about that particular issue and see if there's a general consensus either way.