The Grain And Chaff Of Criticisms
I think a LOT about what I write on here. Well, not just on this blog, on all social media platforms. But I’m thinking most about what I write here because it tends to be more long form. I edit carefully (for content and message, not always for grammar and spelling AS I AM SURE YOU HAVE NOTICED) to try to be diplomatic and empathetic. I also try to be as benign as possible, and non-confrontational, depending on the topic. By the time I publish I feel pretty good about what I’ve written.
That is until I get a negative response.
And then suddenly I doubt everything about myself.
20 people could want to share my posts or retweet my tweet or comment on my blog, but ONE PERSON dislikes it and I start rethinking whether I should have written it at all.
And this is not about constructive criticisms, I’ll be forever grateful for the people who corrected my use of “illegal immigrants” when I wrote about that relatively recently. I mean, it is embarrassing as shit to have that stuff pointed out, but that’s not the kind of thing that keeps me up at night.
This is more about people who are just debating my positions. Like when I’m discussing systemic racism or criminal justice reform and someone thinks that makes me anti-law enforcement. Or when I’m discussing SNAP benefits or Section 8 voucher housing reform, and I maybe respond a little to personally to poverty shaming, and I’m criticized as self-righteous and part of the problem in terms of government reform. It’s the criticisms that might have a seed of validity or truth, depending on where you’re coming from.
It’s those comments that make me stop and take a moment to reflect on my efforts as a writer.
And this is a big deal because I’m going to be attempting to write a LOT MORE in the next few weeks. And I need to figure out how to deal with these lingering doubts that get triggered by negative responses to my words.
I’m putting together a collection of my essays on race as The Formerly Unknowingly Racist White Lady’s Guide To Help Other White People See Racism As A Real Thing We Should Be Addressing Because It Takes White People To Fix It Or Else People Of Color Would Have Fixed It Already.
(That title is a work in Progress.)
It’s something I’ve been thinking about doing for awhile as it is something I’m passionate about and I feel it is a truth that White people have to step up and do the leg work as our Black neighbors have been shouting it from the rooftops for decades and it’s our turn to put a little effort into it since – you know – it’s our people causing the problem. So I’m going to pull a lot of my stuff from here and build it out with less personal snark and more citations from resources and try to submit it somewhere for publishing.
So, I need to either
1) Get thicker skin
2) Develop more confidence in my writing
3) Stop caring
Or maybe a little bit of all three, to be honest.
Yesterday was a good day to face these demons as I saw so many people talking gun control online and so many other people debating them about it and my mood was fragile and the tears were flowing and I just could not stop wanting to respond and address some of these contrary thoughts and opinions and a few times I even got my feelings hurt and that lingered and I finally just said STOP IT, ZOOT. And I added an extension to my chrome browser that does this whenever I visit Facebook or Twitter.
Twitter is not as much of a problem for me as I curate it so it’s mostly sources from my favorite writers and news outlets, it’s more of a way to keep up with current events than a social network at this point. BUT STILL, I blocked it and I took it off my phone.
I just think as I focus on writing I need to remove the demons of self-doubt because when I’m at my best, my most confident, I truly believe this is what I should be doing. When I’m at my worst, I want to push a giant DELETE button to erase my blog, my Facebook, and my Twitter. And for now, I’d like to stay closer to the “confident” end of the spectrum as I try to piece together something worth submitting to publishers.
What about you? How do you filter out the voices that say, “Hey! You should be using the word ‘undocumented’ instead of ‘illegal'” and ignore the voices that say, “Black Lives Matter is a terrorist organization.” How do you toss out the chaff and keep the grain without actually looking at the chaff? You can’t really filter comments blindly, you have to LOOK at them but the bad ones, man…THEY HAUNT ME.