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Putting others down...

I missed my Wednesday writing post so I'll do a double post next week to catch up...well, I'll try. ;)

A strange thing happened to me last week. I'm not going to get into the crazy/petty details but I am learning there is a particular breed of person (can be male or female) that enjoys making statements that bring others down. I have had this happen to me twice in the last week. Now, don't get too sad for me, I'm a pretty tough cookie and take this sort of thing in stride, but others do not. I found myself listening and wondering why people choose to behave this way? Is it a self-esteem thing? That's what all the psych majors would say, but I think it runs deeper than that. And the reason I chose to blog about it today is that there seems to be an overload of this type of person in the writing world.

Have you met one? Either in person or online? It's the kind of writer that likes to tell you what you are doing wrong and what you can do to make it to THEIR level. Hmmm...okay, so you are not published, is that correct? Yes, says the person. And you have no training, right? Yes, the person repeats. So, why am I to listen to you? Uhhhhh...

Yeah, that's what I thought.

See, I am a tough critter. My crit partners can probably attest to this fact, but I am also extremely supportive. I think critiquing should be tough. It is useless if it doesn't force the writer to stop and think. If you are simply critiquing niceties, stop. You are wasting the person's time. But on the same front, if you read something and think it is absolute crap take a step back. Is it in the same genre as what you write? Same style? It is one thing to point out issues, it is another one entirely to call something "bad." Don't do that, please for the love of strawberries stop yourself! We are all learning here. We are all striving for the same or similar goals. Why not support one another? And this goes for all elements of life, not just writing.

I am from the South, that is of the U.S, and all Southern women are given the same gift at birth. We can insult you, like slap you in the face insult, with a wide smile on our faces and so much sugar in our voices you're liable to get a tooth ache. It is an unfortunate gift. I have a family member that has practiced her sugar slap to the point that you have to do a double take to be sure you heard her right. She'll compliment your makeup, smile wide, and then say something like "Don't you just hate it when ladies with full lips wear lipgloss." And you start to nod and realize, wait -- I have full lips and I'm wearing lip gloss!

Congratulations, you just received the sugar slap.

Moral of this super long post? Please, please, please follow Lincoln's wise words - "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt."

Trust me, if you are prepared to smack someone down to size realize now in actuality you are only making yourself look like a fool...I'm actually thinking of another word, but I'll keep my blog relatively clean. ;)

:) M.B.


  1. Great blog, Melissa! I think, in critting and life in general, it all boils down to what your true intentions are. If you are trying to be helpful to someone, you make it a point to highlight the good while shedding light on the not-so-good. But if your *true* intentions are to belittle someone else to build yourself prove to that person that you are better than they are...then you will come across as a (you're trying to keep this clean, right?): jerk.
    Even the kindest (tough) critique given in the spirit of helping can be hard to hear. But in ten seconds, when the sting wears off, you can always tell the difference between words meant to help you versus words meant to tear you down.

  2. Thanks Jess! Yes, I agree the underlying intention is important. Critiquing can be misinterpreted as harsh when the critter had only the best intentions. But I do feel the people I speak of show themselves time and time again. I'm a tough critter, and I imagine some of my comments have stung. To me, this is not the same thing as blatantly taking a jab for the pleasure of it. Ya know?

  3. YES! I wholeheartedly agree (as you can see from my recent blog post. hehe) I do wonder, though, about the negativity with others' writing. Does it make them feel like their writing is better by pointing out flaws?

    In any case, I'm behind you 100%. :)

  4. Amanda - just read your post and commented. Too funny! I cannot figure out the motivation at all. Why be harsh? I have a story here but for the sake of *kindness* I will not delve into it. But in the words of Jack Nicholson, to all weirdos out there - "Go sell crazy elsewhere, I'm all stocked up here!" :)

  5. sugar slap- what a great term!! haha you already know my take on this, so I'll save the ramble, I just wanted to say that your new blog layout looks fabulous! :-)

  6. Found your blog from the Writing Room and enjoyed this post - well, not that even reading about being insulted is particularly enjoyable but just that it's unfortunately something we all run into. I have been so fortunate not to have run into it yet among writers - yet (I know it's only a matter of time) but I have run into it on Goodreads book reviews. It always startles me when people dish out an insult because it so counter-productive. Yet I suppose they must get some small-minded pleasure out being "superior" and they've never heard Lincoln's excellent advice! Loved your description of the "sugar slap"

  7. Okay, just happened to notice the recommended writing books and your favorite books listed on the side, and high five! They are most of my favorites, too. I've never seen anyone pick a particular Harry Potter book before but I have to agree with you #4 is my favorite too! And Bird by Bird? The BEST!

  8. Hi Margo! Thanks for popping over. :) I do feel the people discussed in my post have a desire to feel "superior." And again, why act that way?

    On the books -- yes, HP 4 is by far my fav! Glad to see I'm not alone in that one. I've reread the series a few times and the pacing of 4 is just fantastic, not to mention the ending. I LOVE Bird by Bird!

  9. Ha, Melissa -- fellow Southern woman checking in and I can totally attest to the impact of the sugar slap. :)

    I don't know why certain writers act the way they do but more times than not it's more about their own issues. I've always said that a reader can read more than one book -- can love more than one book so there isn't a shortage or only a few spots available.

    I try to steer clear of them although they do tend to congregate at writer conferences (ha).

    But fortunately, there are so many other supportive writers that make up for those sour lemons.


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