Monday, June 18, 2012

A Mouth on Me

   I have inherited from my family a tendency toward impulsive and tactless speech. I always tell the truth as I see it, but sometimes not at the most opportune time. I don't edit myself. It is odd because I totally recognize the importance of words, as a writer, and do not want to hurt or wound people with them. But often I do. Sometimes I just wound myself, get myself in trouble. Too often.
  A couple of days ago on the online workshop I belong to I commented too freely on someone's work. This person has talent as a writer, but he is apparently very green. I knew from the way he had responded in the past that he didn't have experience in workshops. But I was very blunt about a couple of his poems and now, I fear, have made enemies of him and perhaps everyone in the workshop. I did write a response to his angry letter explaining how I saw the purpose of a workshop and how everyone I knew had been dragged through the briars in a poetry workshop at least once. It isn't personal. But I will have to tone it way down. That's not a bad idea at all, actually. If I can tiptoe a bit more and still tell the truth as I see it, I will not hurt feelings or make enemies. I can't afford to make anymore enemies, for sure.

6 comments:

marly youmans said...

Internet contact often comes across as sharper and harsher than intended--as do texts on a phone. I've seen those things be a problem for a number of people.

Being a Southerner of a certain age with deep South ancestors, I have more trouble with the insistence of the dead on absolute tactfulness! Never hurt someone's feelings. Etc.

Robbi N. said...

On the other hand, none of the comments were personal at all. They related to the poems in question. The fact that he seemed to take them personally may not have been preventable.

R said...

From what you described to me, you seemed perfectly tactful. The poet just needs to learn and understand the norms and rules of a workshop setting. I wouldn't worry too much about it.

Robbi N. said...

Yes, I agree that he needs to learn that. If he doesn't, he's in for a bigger shock when other, meaner writers comment on his work.

marly said...

Oh, lots of people can't bear it. That's why you hear the "that's what I meant to do" comment so often...

Robbi N. said...

But how helpful is that?