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More Flim Flam from the Aquarian's Journal

In Defense of Shane Dobbie

By KJ AartilaPublished about a year ago Updated about a year ago 3 min read
Top Story - March 2023
More Flim Flam from the Aquarian's Journal
Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

Not that he needs my defense, or even wants my ridiculousness to support him. I’m sure he’s perfectly capable of standing up for himself, but here’s my interpretation of his words, in response to Shane Dobbie’s article, Hooptedoddle and Flim Flam.

It maybe could have been said in a less harsh way, but I don’t think his intention was to offend. It was, in my opinion, to bring up a point for writers to consider in developing their writing skills. As writers, we are easily on the defense about writing in general, and too quickly offended about the potential opinion of another, worrying that our writing isn’t good enough. As writers, I would guess any of us are quite sensitive about what we write. We’re supposed to be. Writing is creating art and really good art is created by being vulnerable. It exposes a piece of ourselves.

And because my own piece here is rambling on in a fairly scattered way, I am calling this a journal entry, written in a stream-of-conciousness format.

We are responsible for our own development as creators, and in doing so, we must require ourselves to be open-minded in consideration of other’s opinions. We my agree or disagree, but it’s difficult to interpret when we react in knee-jerk fashion to anything that’s uncomfortable to hear. In fact, I would say anything that causes you to react that way is exactly what needs further examination.

There are many excellent writers on the Vocal platform which aren’t my cup of tea. Does that make them bad writers? Not one little bit. Just as there are many readers on here who don’t care for my style. Does that make me a bad writer? No. My writing could use improvement. It’s much better now than it was five years ago, but I’m always eager to improve, and self-reflect, even if I disagree with the advice.

In my own personal enjoyment of the craft, I’m more likely to be attracted to writing that is less verbose, but that’s not to say that I can’t get immersed in prose which is done well and captivates me. What does that for me is probably different than what does that for you. So be it. Write what you want and do it in a way that makes you feel comfortable in expressing your voice.

I have a story about Flim Flam which really has nothing to do with writing, but it’s the phrase that drew me to Shane’s article in the first place. See, I didn’t know what flim-flam was until I heard it used by one of my husband’s older golfing buddies. He used it in a joking way, always accusing people of trying to trick or scam him, but I had to ask my husband what it meant, as I had never heard it before. I thought it was funny, but to relate it to writing, I guess I would say if you’re unwilling to examine your own writing in an effort to improve your skills, then you re pulling a flim-flam on yourself.

Thank you for reading! Do you find this piece offensive? Why?

Keila Aartila grew up in a small, rural community surrounded by animals and family. She, along with her husband and daughter, horses and other pets, now live on 40 acres in Northern Wisconsin, surrounded by forest and wildlife. She has spent her life reading about, writing about and working with animals, her goal always to be as reliable, trustworthy and honest as a horse, but her innate humaness keeps getting in the way. She remains determined to keep trying, though.


About the Creator

KJ Aartila

A writer of words in northern WI with a small family and a large menagerie.

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  • Paul Stewartabout a year ago

    I love how you eloquently got the point accross! congrats on Top Story!

  • Moneygramabout a year ago


  • Caroline Cravenabout a year ago

    Well done on your top story.

  • JANE AYUabout a year ago

    Congratulations for your Top Story

  • Stephanie J. Bradberryabout a year ago

    Congratulations on your Top Story!!!

  • Loryne Andaweyabout a year ago

    Congratulations for your Top Story!

  • Cathy holmesabout a year ago

    Yay. I'm glad this was a Top Story. Congrats, Keila.

  • Dana Stewartabout a year ago

    Congratulations on Top Story!

  • Kelli Sheckler-Amsdenabout a year ago


  • Congratulations on your Top Story Keila

  • Heather Hublerabout a year ago

    Congratulations on Top Story!!

  • Babs Iversonabout a year ago


  • Loryne Andaweyabout a year ago

    I do agree that the criticisms we hate to hear are the ones we need to hear the most. That is why I try to have more than one person read and edit my longer works before i put it out on Vocal. If more than one person says something needs work, chances are it does. With respect to Shane's article I agree that overly fluffy sentences/paragraphs, when used liberally, clutters the writing. However, the example he quoted was an incomplete sentence, which was also in its incomplete form in the article Shane was critiquing. Context was missing as a result. That has since been rectified and links provided to the original source.

  • Gina C.about a year ago

    Keila, thank you so much for writing this! I agree with your point of view and you worded it so eloquently...I could not figure out how to express myself on this which is part of the reason I haven't commented on the matter yet. 😅 I think so much of it comes down to preference. You said it perfectly when you said "There are many excellent writers on the Vocal platform which aren’t my cup of tea. Does that make them bad writers? Not one little bit. Just as there are many readers on here who don’t care for my style. Does that make me a bad writer? No." What's awesome and engaging for one person can be completely different for what's awesome and engaging for another. As a writer, I fully understand that not everyone will enjoy my stories and my style, just like I don't enjoy every single thing I read either. Wisdom is knowing that you can't possibly please everyone. It's just not how it works. ❤️

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  • Shane Dobbieabout a year ago

    Thank you for this. I’m delighted you engaged with it and took it as intended. Hey, I made you write a thing. Yay me 😂

  • Heather Hublerabout a year ago

    I completely agree that putting creativity out there makes us vulnerable. It's hard to take criticism. It's also hard to know when to take advice. There are some things that will always make your work better, but others are subjective. It depends on your own writing voice and who you're trying to reach as an audience. Not everyone wants to write a masterpiece. I am so glad you added your two cents :) Thank you for sharing this piece!

  • Cathy holmesabout a year ago

    I agree wholeheartedly. Prose is welcome and enjoyable (to me) when it's done well, but I want to read "the story," not seven paragraphs of what you see when you look out the window. And, as you eloquently stated, it's a personal opinion. We like what we like. Great article.

  • Dana Stewartabout a year ago

    I hadn’t read the article of Shane’s you reference, but after reading his piece, I agree with you. And I get the point he was making.I am a ‘new’ writer for all intents, and often feel that my writing isn’t filled in, as they call it. There’s so many kinds of writers on Vocal, not all are my cup of tea either. I’m trying to write upmarket fiction, like the books I’m drawn to purchase. Whether I’m reading or writing, it all boils down to one thing - what’s the story? You articulated this piece very well.

  • Stephanie J. Bradberryabout a year ago

    Personally, I did not view Shane's article as too harsh or worded too strongly. I saw it as a commentary that highlighted just one line from Scott's story, but not meant to put a laser beam on that one sentence to say all of Scott's story was "too descriptive." Writing and response is all about our unique perspective. And as you note here, certain things are our cup of tea. Shane's background in writing scripts lends a powerful lens for why he's all about getting to the point. But Shane also recognizes the benefit and use of description in the right place at the right time.

  • Donna Reneeabout a year ago

    Hi Keila! I agree with a lot of this! I think it all comes down to personal taste, I was talking about this with someone yesterday actually… many of the books and authors that I really enjoy are rated midrange on things like Goodreads…. For not being deep enough or literary enough or whatever. I’m not always looking for that kind of writing though! Sometimes, sure I love reading works of “great merit” haha. But that doesn’t make the other ones less worthy of being enjoyed. Just like sometimes I want a $7 cup of single origin pourover at a fancy cafe and sometimes it’s a Kcup kind of day 🤣😁. I also think that by putting things out here into the world we are opening ourselves up to criticism… and if there are specific pieces that we just DO NOT WANT to hear anything about, we can turn off the comments! 🥰🥰

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