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comment by _refugee_
_refugee_  ·  1413 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The Internet is Swallowing Everything Up HELP WHAT SHOULD I DO

This is a great response; you clearly have a lot of thoughts on this topic and have taken the time to lay them all out, and recognize the nuance inherent in the topic (a quality I believe almost all topics have, and which I appreciate the recognition of). So thank you for taking the time to type this all out and throw in all your cents.

    It's those who crave popularity more than they crave decency or high moral standing

I would add to this. It's those that crave popularity over quality; it's also those that crave positive feedback over honest, valuable critique; it's those that crave attention from any audience as opposed to trying to discern the difference between fawning, uneducated responses and the people with the education, or enthusiasm, or intelligence, to actually appreciate the quality of what they are seeing/reading/experiencing. I think there are people that fall into each of these categories separately and people who combine elements as well. In short I think that my issue is that many people seem to seek an audience and popularity because they want praise as opposed to because they want to spread value. Of course, it is very easy and probably ubiquitous for people to put themselves or their art out in public because they seek a combination of both factors.

I think that my problem with the situation is that it is also very easy to expect and only want positive feedback. The more positive feedback you get the better you may think that you are, and also, the more you want of it. I think it becomes very easy to be "spoiled" in a way with feedback; once you get enough positive responses I think it is so easy to begin to think all those responses are well-grounded (see my third category) that constructive, educated, but not adulatory responses may get dismissed or ignored.

I do agree that when others enjoy our work it feels more meaningful. I can't deny that and I have to say I appreciate you gently correcting me on that point. I work very hard to get poems published, and it's not just because publication means something to others (though it often feels like that is the main point). It is because I do want to be read. Even just the fact that editors read my work, though they reject it, is something. I try to include a line in my submissions thanking the editors for the time they invest in me and my work just by reading it. Because it is something. I am read, even if it's by people who reject me. Someone has seen my work.

I think my issue mainly stems from those people who are willing to bend, sacrifice their original ideas or intentions, and significantly alter or change themselves just for others' praise. I think it's very easy to fall that way. I also think that when people are used to being loved it becomes very hard to accept being disliked or hated. So I think if you are used to putting things out there that get a very positive reaction, and then you try something different that gets a negative reaction, it's very natural and easy to try and tweak it back to a thing that elicits a positive reaction, even without consciously realizing it.

I think everyone should experience apathy and negative reactions. To not experience these I think is to experience a false reality. At least, a supremely unusual one.

I often ask myself, what did I do to deserve a large audience? What do I do now?

I don't believe my writing, blogs poetry etc, has a large audience, and I think it's better to believe that than, falsely, that I have a large sphere of influence or impact. I'd rather believe I am read by fewer people than more that don't really exist. I try to be humble - and, I think, thereby realistic.

ThatFanficGuy  ·  1413 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    It's those that crave popularity over quality; it's also those that crave positive feedback over honest, valuable critique; it's those that crave attention from any audience as opposed to trying to discern the difference between fawning, uneducated responses and the people with the education, or enthusiasm, or intelligence, to actually appreciate the quality of what they are seeing/reading/experiencing.

You've put it much better than I did, and it is what I had in mind but failed to put on... khm, paper, just like the following:

    I think everyone should experience apathy and negative reactions.

Perhaps not apathy, but I believe that everyone must suffer a little in their lives: otherwise, they - we - become spoiled as we come to think that the world owes us something. I don't mean work stress, either: I mean things that are very important to us taken from us: heartbreak, loss of a friend, loss of a job due to lack of skills (rather than due to any external, uncontrollable conditions), failure to achieve perfection of work...

Afterwards, we must remain alone for some time - not to separate us from others, but to let us think without their pressure, without their desires that they might project onto you, without their unfulfilled passions that they hope for you to achieve instead. It is then that we grow, personally and professionally. We aren't perfect, and the sooner we realize that, the better.

* * *

It seems to me that you're afraid of the position you speak of - the spoiled popularity state. If that's the case, then you should know that it's not an automatic process: you willingly put yourself into such position, or you don't. Nothing happens to us automatically: we change if we want to change, even if we don't know it; it is people who're open to growth that grow quicker. Assuming otherwise is letting the world around you rule you, push you around and bend you to their will - and we've just discussed how repulsive this state is for personal happiness and any realistic approach to the situation. People may not like you in the beginning, but it's what you do about it that matters.

    I'd rather believe I am read by fewer people than more that don't really exist.

Even though I support the shier choice, in this case, you're lying to yourself still. It doesn't make you more humble - only less assuming, which may or may not be healthy for each situation. Operate with numbers if available; if not, don't assume any - write as you would in any case. If you'd rather finish writing if nobody's reading, then you aren't writing for yourself - in which case, you might as well not write at all: you aren't changing the world, you're gathering praise.

_refugee_  ·  1412 days ago  ·  link  ·  

In the past (admittedly, the most outstanding examples of this are now from years ago) I have come across to certain people, who I respect and whose input and feedback I've greatly desired, as more interested in praise than their reception. While I have never felt this to be true, it's certainly true that I could have/probably did act(ed) in ways that made it easy for them to draw that conclusion. I get very enthused about my own work in certain blushes; after first writing, after successful revision, and so on. I tend to share the work that I'm most enthused about, which can sound to other people like "Look at this it's so great tell me how great it is!" instead of "Look at this I think it's great but I want you to tell me how it's not so I can stop being in love with it!"

The thing is that it is only the work I am most enthused about that I am going to ask for feedback on; that is because I do not want to waste precious feedback and peer review on mediocre works, but on something that I already feel represents "my best," and so which peer review can help me make into "even better than my best," as opposed to first "okay" and then "good," or maybe "great." The thing is also that when I love, I value more being told why not to love, than being coddled; I want to know the problems, I want to know the issues, and I know that my positive feelings blind me to those parts. I want to know the pitfalls of what I love, whether it's my own work or whether it's American Gods. At the end of the day I want my affection to be justified and if it's not I want someone to point out that I'm glossing over negatives as a result of being emotionally carried away.

I know that one could say, "well, stop caring so much how you come across to others," and I would say yes to this except - when it comes to colleagues and co-writers I very much value their opinion and input, and if I seem offputtingly smug to them, they are not going to want to give me that, or the rest of the time of day either.

Then, too, I have big dreams and big ideas of myself. I fall in love with some of my writing; I deserve to see it rejected a few times before it gets accepted anywhere, to keep me in line with reality. At the end of the day 12 publishers can reject a poem I love and if I still love it and don't think anything should be changed I won't. And it won't impact how much I love the poem - but it will make sure I vet the poem and believe it is strong enough to deserve that love.

It hurts to be rejected. It can feel pointless to run a blog that one suspects no one reads. But at the end of the day I think that the process, of submission and rejection, of writing researching posting and running a blog, is ultimately making me a better writer and a better person. That is why I think I should keep at it.

I will also say that I don't think we can help a certain amount of pride when we get positive feedback. That is kind of more what I am afraid of: positive feedback that isn't always justified or doesn't come from a place of knowledge, that would puff up my pride and ego to the extent that I might dismiss valid, educated negative feedback because I have a sheltering wall of shallow positives. I can't help feeling puffed up by positive remarks and I admit that. So that is the change or habit loop I am afraid of falling into that yes, I do think can easily be fallen into if not conscious monitored and tracked. We want what feels good. The best critiques don't feel good, I don't think. I mean, they can certainly discuss both positives and negatives, and do so in a kind, friendly, constructive manner - but unless you do not see yourself in your writing, I don't think you can help but be a little hurt by them sometimes.

I'll also admit at this point that I had an upbringing that probably really stressed humility and looked down on pride and that may be flavoring my approach as well.

I do need to take more ownership of my accomplishments at times. It's hard for me to brag, but as I'm applying to MFA programs this fall it's really kind of necessary. If I don't brag about what I've done no one will, and no one will know. I will not get into programs based on "polite" reticence. But I fear coming across as pompous proud or boastful. I am very used to a very quiet approach. It is hard to figure out how to be more loud.

I agree that one must learn to rely on one's own thoughts, feedback, voice, etc, at the end of the day, and that time alone and apart from critique is valuable for helping one become a better writer who trusts him or herself. But when I do get critique, I don't want to put someone off or make them feel they cannot be honest by my attitude.

ThatFanficGuy  ·  1412 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Maybe it's not about pride, or appreciation, or even praise, and not about critique or any other sort of negative review. Maybe it's about honesty: how honest you are with yourself, how honest you are with others and how honest they are with you. Those three are intertwined, so that if you aren't honest with yourself, you can't tell with precision who's lying to you; being lied to is being willing to have been lied to, even if it hurts our ego to accept that.

It's not about being pompous or grandiose in your appearance, either, and neither it is about appearing humble: it's about how you act, honestly, without social censorship. If you like the thing you've achieved, it's only natural that you'd like to share the pride of achievement. Go for it! Find people you trust and tell them with honesty what you feel; let them cheer with you: it's the base of good social contacts to be able to share good and bad. Don't brag: tell them precisely what you feel, without exaggeration, like you would tell a story about you going to the shop one day. When you don't like something, be honest as well: it's not about how you appear to others - this matters even less than you think - but about you being true to your feelings, which is far more important than not disturbing someone's pink bubble. How others perceive you is their concern, and you should leave it to them. Do your best and relax about the rest.

If you feel like writing - keep writing, even if no one will read it. If they're willing to praise their way to your heart, it's their choice; yours would be whether to let them.