When Writers Don't Support Other Writers

When Writers Don't Support Other Writers

A few days ago, I published a new piece — my first for The Ascent.

As I always do, I spent the next few days sharing it on social media, including writer’s groups I’ve joined on Facebook.

Last night, another member of one of the groups left a comment on my post:

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Ouuuuch.

In the bright light of day, it doesn’t seem all that bad. But last night, reading it for the first time, it was like a punch to the gut.

 
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It’s OK Not to Like My Work…

I’m totally cool with the fact that this individual wasn’t interested in my article.

I’m also OK with her not wanting to pay to read locked stories.

But Don’t Be A Jerk About It

If you don’t find the subject matter interesting, don’t read it.

If you don’t want to pay money to read locked stories, don’t read it.

If you read it and don’t like it, provide constructive feedback.

But…

Please don’t go out of your way to insult my hard work.

Taking the time to tell a fellow author “your piece is so boring I can’t even bring myself to open it” does nothing to improve anyone’s day. You’ve now taken time from your life — time you’re not going to get back putting negative energy into the world, and you’ve left the author feeling like a colossal failure. It’s a lose-lose situation.

 
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My Inner Critic Loved the Comment

Like most creative types, I suffer from a giant heaping of Imposter Syndrome. The second I read that woman’s comment on my post, I immediately felt like a loser.

How is this possible? I don’t know her. I’ve never seen her name before. I can’t even honestly say she’s a writer; I’m just assuming based on the fact that she’s part of a writer’s group.

Maybe she’s an Internet troll, the kind who feeds on negativity. Maybe she joins writer’s groups solely to mock the hard work of authors everywhere. Or maybe she’s a really wonderful person who was just having a bad moment and wanted to hang her crap on me.

Either way, my Inner Critic LOVED her and used her comment as proof that I’m pursuing the wrong career. The few seconds it took to read her 12 words nearly derailed my attempts to write professionally. I spent hours last night stewing and crafting nasty retorts in my head (none of which I’ll ever actually publish). As time passed, anger gave way to dejection, and I went to bed feeling hurt and sad and sorry for myself.

Perhaps It Was Good for Me

Yeah, I know, I know.

Suck it up, buttercup.

As my husband said last night when I cried to him about this awful, evil, horrible comment on my work:

You’re a writer. You’ll need thick skin. Get over it.

Not exactly the comfort I was aiming for, but he’s right. I’ve been very lucky so far on my writing journey. I’ve received really great feedback, lots of claps, and virtual hugs all around.

It was probably time to get knocked to the ground and dirtied up a bit. I watch authors I admire get dragged through the mud on Twitter on a daily basis. They hold their head high and carry on, refusing to feed the trolls.

So, I’ll take this as a life lesson: not all comments will be fair, not all readers will be kind, not all articles will be liked.

And as for that woman…if she ever posts a link to an article she’s written…

…I’ll happily read it, compliment her hard work, and continue on with my day.

After all, us writers gotta support one another.

A version of this post first appeared in The Ascent

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