A message for my Mystery Feedback Meanie.
Choose your words carefully… Please…
Even though I tell myself to try to be immune to feedback – as a quote in the dedication to Sophie Hannah’s A Room Swept White goes: ‘Take nothing personally, even if it’s got your name on it.’ … however often I remind myself of that, I still find any negative feedback on my writing upsetting. But when it’s given on something written from the heart it’s physically painful.
Right now I feel as if I have been thumped in the chest with a cold iron bar. I am literally shaking. (Which is a shame because I’ve spent all day trying to overcome stress and thought I was winning)
A one star review on a poem on the Ether app has just wiped out the joy of a 5 star review I received minutes earlier for a short story. They didn’t like it. It’s a shame but I can cope with that. Everyone is entitled to give one star for something that doesn’t work for them.
But what did the most damage and hurt the most was the comment: “Childish”
And the reason it hurt was because I know different and I can’t tell that person.
This is what I want to tell that person:
I wrote that poem because I know how it feels to lose and to hurt. To hurt very, very badly. I know how it feels to desperately look for something that describes how you feel and not find it. I wrote it when in a deep state of grief after finding poem upon poem that I couldn’t connect with. So often I hear funeral poems that make me want to scream. I didn’t think it was a marvellous piece of creative writing, but it was as much from the guts as anything I have ever written and to be given a one-word review like that was, quite simply, unfair and rather nasty. I wasn’t trying to be clever I was deliberately being simple and honest. In fact I made a point of writing in the blurb for it that it is ‘simple.’ (I’ve just checked and the actual word I used was ‘uncomplicated’) It was also free so I’m not sure it was necessary to be that nasty.
I didn’t learn to write poetry at school. I wasn’t taught to appreciate poetry. In fact, I spent nearly forty years being scared of poetry. Poets were part of some special elitist club for snooty poetry brains. Thanks to the education system in this country, I know I am one of thousands of people who feel like that
And then 2 years ago I discovered that the elitist bit wasn’t true. Poetry is for whoever wants it (although there are some academic snobs that would like to keep the normal folk out still). I bought myself some audio CDs of poetry readings and realised that poetry is simply a matter of taste. Someone else’s dull might be your idea of deep and meaningful. My idea of too long might be someone else’s perfect escapism, for example…
Anyway, my point is if my words were not the ones you were looking for – Mystery Feedback Meanie, then think about how yours were much less imaginative. And I have to suffer the consequences of yours every day
Here are some alternatives:
‘It’s not for me.’
‘I didn’t really like it.’
‘Not my kind of thing.’
‘I prefer Auden.’
‘Childish’ is just … childish, really.