Monday is the first day of my weekend and, usually, I start by having a cup of coffee and then I clean the house. To my genuine pleasure, this Monday I started by reading good pieces of online “literature”. Two of them actually made me think about writing and the dynamics of it, the perception we, those who write, have about our readers and how we interact with them, how we cope with their feedback.
Old age and the fear of negative feedback
The first one is a blog post by Andrei Plesu, a Romanian essayist, journalist and literary critic, in which he announces that he will try to be a blogger. Not very important news, in my opinion, since you could read his editorials in the online issues of publications too. What intrigued me though was that he started his post by drawing a line between writers and readers. He assigns two different roles to each one, and states that each should stick to their role: the writer to write, and the reader to read. Furthermore, he questions the legitimacy that the online gives the readers to comment and reply to the writers, by claiming that the competence of opinion should undermine the freedom of opinion. To me, that is a bit tough and judgmental, even coming from a person born before the technology era and shows a fear of feedback that we, the younger ones, do not possess. His post is called “To be or not to be a blogger” and, in the end, he admits that he will attempt to be a blogger because “an old man is not an old man unless he acts as a young man every once in a while”.
Plesu justifies his favoring of “the competence of opinion” by offering examples of those readers and bloggers who comment only to insult, who make grammar mistakes, who state opinions as truths and whose premises’ validity is not verified by the readers. Though I completely agree that there are lots of people who act like know-it-all’s, the flow of ideas, the exchange of feedback and facts checks have never been more easy and accesible. Online users and bloggers are not seeking the truth, but the opportunity to build a body of knowledge and ideas that will help them grasp the face of reality. And, since I read the comments of every post I stumble upon, I have to agree with this user who underlined the benefits of immediate feedback and how it challenges the writer to become better. He asks: “What would have Dostoyevsky done if he had the opportunity of the internet when he lived? I wish I had seen Kant reply to an user who tells him: You’re rambling, sucker!”. How is that such a bad thing? Or, maybe the readers are not entitled to an opinion because they are merely readers and don’t possess the gift of literary creativity, the divine inspiration that makes a writer wrap the universal truth in a shiny coat of well-chosen words?
You answer that, I will have to go beyond my competence to be able to give you a decent answer and I don’t want to state something I don’t have the credibility to state.
Young age and personal truths
The second post I read is here and is just as clear and well written as the others on this blog. Before getting into the essence of the piece that Cristian wrote, I have to admit he throws me off my guard every time and he is younger than I am. Congrats!
He starts by offering a Chuck Palahniuk quote that encourages writers to write about themselves, their feelings and what they encounter in their lives. The argumentation is not necessary, because I am sure it reasons with everyone who has ever tried writing and, besides, is very well developed on Cristian’s blog. The only reason I bring this into the discussion is to ask a few questions that popped into my mind after my reading session this morning: Have you ever wrote something that didn’t have its roots in your personal experience? If Yes, how do you create something that doesn’t come from within your persona? Is your personal “truth” not as true to you as the universal truths and, in this light, it is not worth sharing it?
To finish, I leave you with an interesting video of Isabel Allende, who shares her inspiration when writing her novels and short stories. For those of you who know Spanish, it’s worth listening to her. After you watch it, tell me, do you think she is afraid of her readers’ feedback and their opinions’ lack of validity? Because I really think not.