Recently I wrote about the lack of critique here on Vocal. It's a double edged sword - in some ways wonderful, and refreshing compared to other places. On the other hand, potentially stifling for some and possibly an untapped resource that could benefit us all. Here it is if you want to read it:
I'm so glad I wrote it, because it's outstripped by the insightful and thought-provoking comments that follow it. I recommend you read those. This piece is an answer to those comments.
The conversations that have sprung from it have helped me arrange my thoughts more coherently. Now I've got several pieces that have been sitting in my Drafts for a long time pretty much ready to go. So, to those who have engaged so meaningfully: THANK YOU! To those who are bonkers enough to subscribe to me: I might submit them in fairly quick succession - sorry about that! I normally prefer to stagger them a bit more. (I promise I won't be spamming your notifications for days!)
Here we go - my response to what I think were the best points raised in the comments on my other piece, one by one:
i) This platform isn't always a supportive one
When I said, "comments are always kind and encouraging" I completely ignored the people who feel they've been on the receiving end of harsh treatment. Either someone has commented on their stories harshly, or they've left a comment and the person has lashed out.
It does happen. I maintain that it is in the minority compared to the supportive engagement - but this got me thinking. Why is that?
Is it because the people dishing out harsh treatment are a vanishing minority, or because they don't act out often? Or is it because they've successfully shut other people down? Are people just pretending to be nice? Are some repressing any commentary that could be perceived as negative, and it's coming out elsewhere?
ii) Not everyone wants critique
Some would say: if you put your work out there in public, you should expect critique. There's some truth to that.
Still, I've got stuff I know is not my best effort, and I appreciate your grace in ignoring it rather than rubbing my face in it. I've got stories that are my babies - they mean a great deal to me, and I appreciate other people going easy on them. Some people are not interested in actively honing their writing to get better - they just write for the fun of it, for joy, for self-expression. They don't need to be told what's wrong with it. That took me a while to wrap my head around.
iii) Comments are public
The person leaving a comment isn't sure whether the writer wants that type of feedback on their writing, certainly not publicly.
Take something simple like a typo. Alexander and I agreed that if we've made a mistake, please tell us so we can fix it! But others don't want attention drawn to that mistake.
I likened it to having loo paper stuck to the back of your trousers. For goodness sake tell me! Don't let me walk around oblivious! But there are some who would (quite rightly) argue that if someone does have errant loo paper caught on the back of their clothes, you would give them a nudge and say so quietly. You wouldn't grab a megaphone and stand on a table yelling, "OY! SUSAN! YOU'VE GOT ARSE-WIPE ON THE BACK OF YOUR SKIRT, LUV!"
I've got some suggestions for Vocal up my sleeve with these thoughts in mind, but that's for another post.
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Thank you for reading!
As always, I appreciate you leaving a comment so I can easily reciprocate.