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WTF: Watch That Feedback! September 14, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Blogging, Humor, Mindfulness, Writing & Writers.
19 comments

When a reader in cyberspace says, “Excellent post!” or “WOW!” . . . should we accept those words at face value?  

If so, what is their “face value”?  Does the feedback mean:

(a) the piece is perfect with no room for improvement

(b) the reader agrees 100% with the opinions expressed

(c) the reader is sarcastically tossing ACKolades at the writer to poke fun

(d) the reader is saying what they think the writer wants to hear (in order to entice the writer to reciprocate?)

(e) the reader thinks the work in question is excellent . . . vis-a-vis the 213 text messages they received that day

(f) the reader felt the author got their points across without undue stuttering

The answer most often is “g” . . . Who knows?  Your guess is as good as mine.

If we want to grow as writers, we need to be careful about internalizing favorable (and unfavorable) feedback from casual readers and fans since it is difficult (if not impossible) to measure the “face value” of the accolades  (or ACKolades)  tossed our way.  

Among other things, when we use external feedback to evaluate the worth of our words, we may be lulled into complacency if we consistently receive “kudos” from readers.

* Why edit to polish our words if the champagne is already flowing?

* Why fine tune grammar and punctuation when accolades are rolling in? 

As writers, it doesn’t matter whether our audience agrees with our view of the world ~ some will, some won’t.  That’s a given.  

What matters is that we make an effort to express our thoughts eloquently, persuasively, and without unnecessary distraction from misplaced commas and misspelled words.  

When we rely on our internal barometer to measure the worth of our words, we  know whether the post in question is our best effort.  We know what we are using as a frame of reference (Tolstoy vs. Txt Msg).  We know we are evaluating the clarity of the writing, not our agreement (or disagreement) with the author’s point of view.  

And we know we are not tossing out insincere platitudes to curry favor.  

As writers, we are in the driver’s seat.  We have the best vantage point.  We know where we wanted to go with the piece, and whether getting from Point A to Point B will be smooth sailing for our readers . . . or a roller coaster ride  down a dirt road riddled with potholes.  

If we receive a “standing ovation” for every submission we post, even when we know that the post in question does not warrant that level of acclaim, we need to tune out the applause long enough to listen to our inner editor. 

We need to evaluate what we write, and the feedback we receive, in light of our own experience and writer’s voice.

We need to WTF:  Watch That Feedback! . . . not mindlessly gobble up praise to feed our ever-hungry egos.

Oh, what do I mean when I tell YOU that your post is AWESOME? 

Well, it depends . . . either I liked the writing, or the subject matter, or the thought provoking nature of the post, or the poetic cadence, or the pictures and graphics, or the memories and images it evoked, or I agreed with the opinions you expressed, or I felt you needed a dose of  encouragement, or I saw real improvement, or  . . . G . . . your guess is as good as mine.         

Related posts:  A Writer’s Life For MeOur Field of Dreams * Our Internal CompassAuthor’s Voice: How To Find It? (Global Mysteries) * Bats, Writing Groups, and Submissions (Here Be Dragons)

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Fun with Words: What’s Up? September 14, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Word Play.
4 comments

What two-letter word has more uses than any other two-letter word?

I’ll give you a clue:  It’s a noun, a verb, an adjective, an adverb, and a preposition! 

How’s that for multi-tasking a word? 

Do you give UP?  

Really? 

What’s UP with that?

When we stop sleeping, we wake UP.  At meetings, topics come UP, and we speak UP.  When officers are UP for election, it’s UP to the secretary to write UP a report.

We call UP our friends, look UP addresses, and stare UP at the sky.  We use paint to brighten UP a room.  We polish UP the silver.  We warm UP the leftovers.  We clean UP the kitchen.  We lock UP the house.

Mechanics fix UP our cars.  People stir UP trouble.

We line UP for tickets.  We work UP an appetite.  We think UP excuses.  Our kids play Dress UP, and we get dressed UP on special occasions. 

A drain must be opened UP if it gets stopped UP.  We open UP a store in the morning and close it UP at night.

If you’re getting mixed UP about the proper uses of UP, look it UP in the dictionary.  But I’ll give you a heads UP, UP takes UP half the page and adds UP to thirty definitions.

If you’re UP to it, you might try building a list of the ways we use UP.  It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don’t give UP, you may wind UP with quite a list.

When rain threatens, it clouds UP.  When the sun returns, it clears UP.  A drenching rain muddies things UP.  During a draught, things dry UP.

Well, I better wrap it UP since my time is almost UP.

Oh, wait, one more thing: 

What is the first thing you do in the morning and the last thing you do at night?

Answer:  U P

Did that crack you UP?

OK, now I’ll shut UP.

* * * * *

Inspiration:  e-mail from unknown author

The Shoebox September 14, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Humor, Joke, People.
11 comments

170px-Maes_Old_Woman_DozingA  man and woman had been married for more than 60 years.

Throughout their marriage, they had  kept no secrets from each other except  for a shoe box kept in her closet that she had cautioned her husband never to open or ask her  about.

Shortly after her 83rd birthday, the  woman got sick, and her doctor said she would not recover.

In trying to sort out their affairs, the old man  carried the shoe box to his wife’s bedside.

She agreed that, given her illness, he should open the box.  As he lifted the lid, he saw two crocheted dolls and a brown paper bag.

Picking up the dolls, he asked her about them.

“When we first married,” she explained, “my grandmother told me the secret of a happy marriage was never to argue.  She said that, if I ever got angry with you, I  should just keep quiet and crochet a doll.”

The old  man was so moved, he had to fight back tears . . . only two precious dolls were in the box.

She had only been angry with him twice in all those years.  He almost burst with happiness.

“Honey, that explains the dolls, but what’s in the bag?”

“Open it.”

He unfolded the bag, opened it, and saw a huge stack of money ~ thousands of dollars!

250px-New_Orleans_City_of_Old_Romance_and_New_Opportunity_Crop_p_23_Moneybags

Shocked, he exclaimed, “Look at all this money!  Where did it come  from?”

“That’s the money I made from selling the dolls.”

Aah . . . that’s better!

You knew there had to be a hook in here somewhere, didn’t you?

Inspiration:  e-mail from unknown author