Wednesday, 10 April 2013

what she said

MrsM is absolutely delighted to have a short story published in issue 15 of Oh Comely. The whole magazine looks fabulous and will be in a WH Smith near you very soon - buy it just to read the alphabet spaghetti poem.

MrsM gets her contributor copy of the magazine, finds her own article which is one of a series of three stories paired with spare and beautiful photographs and immediately shows it to colleagues at work. A colleague, who shall not be identified but fortunately does not read this blog, read the story and then passed back the magazine saying "You do realise it is a very gendered piece of writing. Only a woman of a certain age would write that." MrsM did not know how to reply.

Later, MrsM did what she always does in situations like this, she told MissM who was shocked. "You didn't allow yourself to be patronised did you? Of course it is gendered writing - you were writing to a specific brief for a women's magazine about three women. It wasn't an academic treatise about, for example, footbridges. You would be really cross if someone said that to me so you shouldn't accept it as a valid criticism of your own writing. I'm afraid it sounds rather socially inept."

MrsM thought about it again and realised that MissM was right - that the comment said more about the person than her writing and she laughed. And at that moment she started to feel like a real writer.

***

My purpose in writing this post is to demonstrate that it is foolish and unrealistic to see every comment as searing insight into your work and you should only absorb comments which help you improve your work in future. This is true for all forms of creative output.

30 comments:

  1. Well said, Miss M. And congratulations to you! And I wonder, would your critic have said the same thing to a man? Perhaps, but perhaps not. Sometimes what people say reveals so much about their inner life - what a pinched in way for that person to live!

    Meredith

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  2. 'You would be really cross if someone said that to me so you shouldn't accept it as a valid criticism of your own writing' - Miss M sounds like she has a good head. Tell her to come be besties with me.

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  3. Wise MissM.
    Brava to you AND her.
    In fact she's your daughter.

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  4. I decided, while having my shower, that vacuous was the best way to sum up that remark.

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  5. I am smiling a quiet smile here.......... I hope you are beaming a great big one!

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  6. Congratulations MrsM! I am very happy for you. Pity the magazine is not available in NL...
    "Socially inept" indeed! Rude, I would add.
    Tsssk.
    Andrea

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  7. Congratulations! And those are some very wise and true words from Miss M. K x

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  8. I have always thought of you as a real writer Alice.

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  9. MissM is a gem

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  10. Miss M is a very insightful young woman. And of course you are a real writer. Congratualtions on being published... again!

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  11. Congratulations, Alice - both on your publication succes and on raising such a wise and insightful daughter.

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  12. Congratulations, Alice. I agree with(Anonymous) Andrea, Rude is how it strikes me too - and perhaps a tinge of sour grapes! Daughters are wonderful aren't they, always so much more certain them us.

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  13. Alice, congratulations on raising such an articulate, thoughtful, insightful, forthright, exquisite daughter who expresses herself with dignity, grace and style. She, along with your courageous runner, darling husband and the light in which you all live are your true masterpieces.

    I can hardly wait to consult my authority, the young Mrs.C. on this matter. Holding a lofty position in a loftier library in one of the loftiest woman's college in the world...well, one can only imagine!
    Certainly such a library will have this publication and I will be thrilled to read your work!

    Congratulations Alice on being published, and thank you for so generously sharing yourself. XO.K

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  14. Liz in Missouri (USA)April 10, 2013

    HOORAH for MrsM and what I'm sure is a wonderful story. I've always thought of you as a writer, ever since I discovered your blog. The way you express your thoughts and ideas is a joy to read. Bravo MissM for clear sight and support.

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  15. I can only concur with all the positive and good comments made above. I wonder if we have a W H Smith locally...

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  16. Great advice. Thank you for sharing your experience. I always look forward to reading your blog posts.

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  17. Congratulations on being published - what a wonderful and well deserved achievement; and congratulations a second time for having raised such a wise and intelligent daughter. Envy is such a petty emotion. Can't wait to read your story.

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  18. You go, MrsM.
    And you know, I agree with Driftwood. For a long time now I have known you are a real writer.

    Only because I was listening to them yesterday, I recommend to you the youtubes of Elizabeth Strout. Have you read her Olive Kitteridge?

    It's about a woman of a certain age, and it's wonderful.

    Good for you, Alice.

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  19. Not to mention the very sound advice of the wise MissM.

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  20. Delurking to add my congratulations and say how much I am looking forward to buying my copy of the magazine. I have enjoyed both your writing and your photographs for so long and I am thrilled that you are gaining wider recognition. Miss M is absolutely right with her comments!

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  21. Congratulations on your publication!
    Also, thank-you MrsM and MissM for sharing that good advice. It encouraged me
    today. I think that you, MrsM, have raised a very smart daughter!

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  22. Gendered is not a word.

    I shall look out for the magazine. Well done you.

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  23. Congratulations, and hear hear (that Miss M of yours is wise beyond her years!) ... can't wait to read your words in print :D

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  24. Congratulations dear one on this news. And on raising such a beautiful woman (with Mr M of course).

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  25. Yes! what MissM said.
    i only wish i could get my hands on a copy of the magazine.

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  26. Someone ( very wisely ) once said that we should not be swayed by either criticism or praise, just continue along our path the best we can ... good advice, not always achievable though!

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  27. Well done Alice, I look forward to read the story.

    Keep writing.

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  28. Wonderful to hear the news. I'm going to be in London next week and I'll be searching out a WH Smith to find your stories!

    Sour grapes comes to mind when I hear a comment like that. I'm glad that both you and Miss M turned the sourness into something much more memorable.

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  29. People will reach for anything idiotic to say in order to sound insightful. It's only as I get older that I realise that this is actually what's happening.

    And I agree with Tess.

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  30. Sometimes people love to hear the sound of their own opinions. I had one like that yesterday too. My euphoria at a particular small success was well and truly dampened by another's put down of the event in general.

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