In 2008, someone I thought I respected as an online writer acquaintance told me I was an awful writer, one of the worst he’d ever seen on the website we had both contributed to. I had, in youthful stupidity, written a blog post saying something negative about the website (which I no longer wrote for) but it was not about anyone in particular. It was naive post, and there are many things I wish I wouldn’t have written back then, but I certainly didn’t expect the comment I got from a fellow writer.
Of all the comments I’ve received on my writing, that’s the only one that is seared in my memory. Isn’t that crazy? And the person that wrote it? I still see him in the same online world I’m in. He writes for another website now, his names pops up on Twitter a lot and I’m guessing he doesn’t remember me or leaving that god awful comment. Occasionally someone will mention his name and I’ll burn with irritation but I don’t ever tell anyone what he said.
Every time I write something or publish something I remember what he wrote. I told you I got a book agent for my book, which is now being shopped for publishers. When I asked my agent if he thought I should get an editor first (publishers give you their own editors if they take your manuscript), he told me he didn’t think I needed to because I was a good writer. Recently another colleague asked me if a piece I’d written had undergone many edits. I said no, to which he replied “Wow, you’re a good writer.”
Every time I am paid a compliment for my writing, I’m shocked. And ridiculously, it is somewhat related to this dumb little comment someone left me nearly 10 years ago.
I’m sure this guy is perfectly nice and there’s a reason people respect him in general. I’m sure he wouldn’t have made this comment if he knew it would haunt me for a decade. Maybe he was having a bad day. Maybe he was extra defensive because of something else. But I’m here to tell you that online comments and off-the-cuff remarks can leave a scar.
I’ve heard from many writers recently that they simply don’t read their Amazon reviews. It hurts too much because you remember 100% of the bad and 10% of the good. I’ve GOT to get out of this mindset and truly believe that God is directing my writing.
I want to be stronger than the girl who is emotionally taken down by an online comment, but it’s this ONE that is a thorn in my side. I only realized how much it bothered me recently and maybe writing about is my therapeutic way of getting out of my system.
I was naive in my politics and my writing back in 2007 when I wrote for that website. Things have changed and it’s time for me to erase those words from my memory.