Constructive and Destructive Criticism

We all like getting feedback, don’t we? Part of the purpose of blogging is being able to interact with people who share our interests and passions. Is it inevitable that we eventually encounter someone whose sole purpose seems to be to cause trouble? Probably. It’s happened to me and I know it’s happened to a few of my friends. I was recently a witness to a really nasty exchange in a writers’ forum on another social media site. An editor felt it her duty to denigrate someone who had made grammatical errors in a comment thread. That’s right, a comment. The conversation that followed was the equivalent of a verbal brawl. However, the writers who came to the defense of the error prone commenter made a compelling argument on her behalf.

The consensus among the writers was this: that we should not be held to the same standards for informal writing and commenting that we would be for our professional endeavors. This may or may not include your blog, depending on the type of blog you have. It should be obvious, but for a writer, the highest standards of grammar and punctuation should apply. It is, after all, your author platform. On the other hand, if you’re just blogging for fun, then it’s not as critical.

Nevertheless, if you are serious about becoming a writer, you must endeavor to use good grammar and punctuation. No agent or publisher is going to take you seriously if you submit sloppy work for publication. There are software programs, books and guides readily available to help you improve your grammar and punctuation. They are not that expensive, trust me. I picked up a copy of the classic: “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk for 99 cents on Kindle.

Back to the negative feedback… How does one react? Fortunately with WordPress, comments on our own blogs can be held for moderation, edited by the site author and deleted if they are really offensive. But what if you could tell that the counsel was given with good intentions? It is a sincere effort to correct a glaring error. Yet there it is in the comment thread, shining the light of disapproval on your hard work. Perhaps you could thank the commenter, make the correction and explain that you will delete the exchange after the fact.

However, on the part of the one making the critique, is it necessary to correct mistakes in public at all? What good does that do except embarrass the one who made the mistake? Is making the correction that important to you? Then perhaps find a way to do it privately. Ask yourself what your purpose is in making the correction. Do you really want to make sure the misconception or confusion is cleared up or are you just out to make yourself look smarter? Have you heard the expression “Would you rather be right or kind?” Think about it. Then do the right thing.

It’s a mean, mean world. We don’t need to contribute to it.

Le Boulangerie (14) Cold Ovens

To accompany my novel in progress: Breaking Bread, welcome to Le Boulangerie.

Surprise! Nothing baking this week. Now, if I’d had my wits about me, I’d have prepared ahead of time or twisted someone’s arm into guest posting this week. Alas, none of that happened. But since I saw some breathtaking views over the weekend, instead I’ll use this opportunity to share my photos. These were taken while exploring the Dingle Peninsula on the West Coast of Ireland.