Friday, April 24, 2009

The Bridge

I was debating whether to link my review or talk about it on here. That is because the review itself stung like Nutjobber’s proverbial “cluster of bees”. It’s what I asked for, what I deep down knew would happen. I was, like in so many other ways and choices I’ve made, drawn to the hurt of it.

So I let it sit there silently in the time-out chair of my brain. And, of course, at first I railed against it. “But you just don’t understand me”, “You don’t get me, or what I’m doing here.” After I got over the little girl tantrums I realized that a good writer should be able to transcend that divide between universes. A good writer should be able to build a long, sturdy bridge with her words so that a foreigner can make the trip safely and pleasurably into that private world. The things that are the most different than us could be the most interesting; we should want to go there and if that bridge is artfully constructed we don’t mind staying there for a little while in that place that is so different from our own. My bridge is in disrepair.

I’m not on a cross. Truly, I’m not. I’m just trying to work out what it is exactly that earned me 1 star out of a possible 4. I was the nerd in school who would get an A- on an essay and get all fucking worked up about it. That minus would, like, destroy me. So a 1 star feels like a D, which honestly would have had me swallowing a bottle of pills back in the day. So the result of the review is that now I am embarrassed by this body of work, by all that sloppy angst clogging up my archives. But it is what it is and this whole experience of blogging has been me learning and trying to reach different parts of me that were buried. And in the process, I’ve managed to eek out a lot of bleak and joyless blobs of words.

I realize that Nutjobber is right when he says, “Hopefully, she'll continue on her current path, resolutely elevating her writing to allow it to transcend her emotions, making them work for her instead of the other way around.” I let my emotions lead me around like a puppy on a leash and they are always the driving force behind what I put to paper.

The last thing I want is a reader to get a headache from my writing or to put his or her head in hands. And after hearing that my writing had that effect on someone, well my first reaction was, “What the fuck am I doing? Why am I doing it?” And then I wanted to take down my blog and start over somewhere new where I could reinvent myself and not be weighed down by previous failures. Stupid, stupid, I know. Then I read the comments, and I realized that I had readers, awesome readers, who do like my blog, my bleak, self-indulgent, bright red scream of a blog. So I’ll stick it out for a while and see if I can’t just be a big girl about this and actually use the criticism to morph into a better writer. Because I think I’m capable of better writing, at least I hope I am. I’m just not ready to give up just yet. This writing thing is in my bones and even if I stop blogging, I don’t think I’m capable of not writing, even if it is just for me.

So thanks Nutjobber for your honest and well-thought out opinion. It hurt to read it, but maybe I needed a kick in the ass to get me out of my rut and start writing like a grown-up instead of a little girl drowning in a pool of tears.


  1. Don't let the man get you down.I mean can you really take anything seriously coming from someone named nutjobber?

  2. Hee - Believe it or not, yes I can :) It matters to me what he thinks. And I'm not down, really. Just pensive and thoughtful about what was said. But thanks for the pep talk - whoever you are!

  3. See, this? Your initial feelings, are EXACTLY why I have yet to submit my blog for review. I've been reading AAYSR for almost a year now (a lot longer than I've been commenting), and have even written about my struggle with the decision to be reviewed (

    Personally, like I said in my comment, I think that your voice comes out clearly in here, and that too much polish would change that. Admittedly, your stuff is very... angsty... sometimes more than I can process immediately (hence the lack of comments from me), but I like the honesty and the passion.

  4. Gwen, don't sweat it.

    you have to keep in mind that all the reviewers have different tastes. I don't agree with all the reviews all the time. Usually I trust them, and I used them as a guide when I was filling up my reader sometimes, but some of the ones that got "I fucking love you", I ended up not finding anything in them for me and then finally deleted them from my reader. I've seen others get reviews that seemed they deserved more. I've even seen reviewers get reviewed and not do so well, so take it with the grain of salt it deserves. Everyone is different.

    Calamity reviewed mine and gave me a positive review, but I've often wondered how it would have been reviewed had some of the other reviewers had the job. Once I get my new blog up and running, with something substantial to review, I'll submit again, and hope Calamity doesn't review it again so I can get a different perspective.

    Look at it this way, the critique you got from Nutjobber will be much more constructive than a round of I fucking love you and a million words of praise. It will likely be the only peice of constructive criticism that you get in this process, as you will not likely get real criticism of your writing on the blog itself (only praise). I have never seen anyone on any blog leave a comment like "this peice is weak, you should do this..." (except on my own blog where it was a friend of mine giving me a hard time). It doesn't mean you have to change to adapt to what Nutjobber would have liked to read. Obviously you are writing your way out of a bunch of stuff and I hope that when you look inside for the deep down stuff to write about and that is what you find, then that is what you write about, because you truly are talented and it would be a shame not to see that core stuff on here.

    Besides, you can always resubmit after you've written more and taken to heart some of the comments and constructive criticism.

  5. I got a two-star review from them back when I submitted a year or so ago, and they do offer some good advice. You just have to sift through all the wise-cracking, aren't we witty, bullshit.

    Please, don't change a thing. Your writing is you, and changing just to be liked will only depress you.

    You've likely earned a few more readers from the review, so take that exclamation and run with it . . .

  6. Not that you don't have things to work on as a writer and NJ did highlight some, but had you gotten one of the females, you would have gotten more stars. I read NJ's personal blog and it is a great deal harder to connect to than yours, most of his work is not my preferred style but occassionally he slips in a personal piece and I love them. He's a great writer clearly, but not what I am generally interested in reading. Blue's right, don't change to fit what he or anyone else wants but you can evolve. I for one like to sometimes plunk down a personal piece and put it away dfor a few days and come back and look at it, then I look at it with some detachment and try to make it come together better, clearer, etc. When I first started blogging, I was so excited to get comments, I often rushed to publish stuff. Also, this writing stuff isn't school and it's far more of a process than anything. I've always been a good writer but only the last few years have I really grown in ways that have I think given my writing more depth. I meant it that you got a lot of valuable feedback, it's hard to hear when you are AType overachiever(believe me, I feel your pain) but it's all about getting better and you shouldn't be embarrased that you are growing, most writers say they didn't hit their peak until into their fifties, really. I see myself, now at 35 as a writer still in my adolescence really.

  7. Sci-Fi Dad - It occurred to me that my submission was a very big mistake, and up until the day the review was posted I considered redacting. I need polish, for sure, on my words. But I really do try, I mean TRY. Of course, not every post can be a masterpiece, and, in my case, that would be never. But the one star really cut, a lot more than it should, especially when I read some of the other 1 star blogs. I think, "Is that really the caliber of my work right there? Yikes" But, hey, I think your blog is great and I don't think you'd get a bad review.

  8. BlueStreak - I've always trusted the opinions of the reviewers and found many awesome blogs in the process. In fact, if I read my review and it were someone else's I would not even click over there to check it out. I felt myself ROLLING MY EYES at my own work. But what you say is true about learnig from the experience. And no, I was not expecting a heap of praise. Not at all. I don't love myself or what I do enough to have expected that.

  9. Tys Daddy - thanks for the kind words. I wish I could say, "Yeah, I'm not changing a damn thing" but I just can't do that.

  10. Miss Missives - I love what you wrote about writing a piece and then putting it aside for a few days or even longer. Because hastily writing something and then posting it just for the sake of it can really rob us of an opportunity to really make something the best that it can be. Thanks for the advice and for reading. I really do appreciate it and the time you took to write that response.

  11. Gwen,
    Almost every day I have to give someone something that I have written for their editing/approval/disapproval, so my skin is rather thick. Rejoice in the positive feedback, learn from the constructive criticism and screw the rest.

  12. P.S. Your comment-poster mechanism HATES me.

  13. I think that this is where it is hard to be the not-reviewer. Because if Cal or MM had reviewed a Free Man, clearly they'd have given him an I fucking love you. And if I'd gotten you, you'd have gotten that from me.

  14. As far as reviews go, I literally found the site on accident. I'd only written blogs on Myspace, and people were always telling me I should write more, and I thought everyone was full of shit. And then one day I found that site by googling a movie quote or something, and I was all, "Unbiased. Perfect." So I submitted, just to see if anyone else liked my writing other than my friends.

    I always loved writing, but I never, ever thought anyone would care to read a word I wrote. Ever.

    So for me, the hardest part was accepting the fact that someone thought I could write. I couldn't believe it. Even today, the fact that more than two people read my blog is just ridiculous.

    So you enjoy this, Gwen, because more and more people are going to be able to relate to you than you think. You've got appeal. I guaran-fucking-tee, you're going to be like, a blogging giant.

    You're so open and accepting that it's hard not to turn your comments section into a confessional, almost.

    By the way, I'm sorry I bully you. I don't mean to, and I shouldn't. It's just, I can feel you doubting yourself. Fuck it. You have all of these people jumping to your side: That says something about you, about your writing, about the effect you have on people.

    Thought you should know.

  15. Here in Franklin - Have I told you lately that I loved you? :)

    LB - The fact that you fucking love my blog "as is" gives me real hope that I'm not a complete fuck up in what I'm doing here. And I know I am coming off whiny and woe is me, but it's just my nature to get all OCDish about stuff like this. Your opinion is golden to me because your writing is brilliant and I do not discount it, not one bit. I asked/I received and I'm not going to say about Nutjobber, "Well I don't care what you think anyway" because it's not true. I do care. A lot. And I hope I can prove that I'm not the type of writer he describes in the review. I just don't want to be that girl, you know?

    Rassles - I have a confession to make to you. I kind of have a crush on you. I hope it doesn't make things all weird and awkward between us now. You don't need to apologize to me for what you call "bullying"; it really makes me laugh and/or reflect. I don't know how you do it, (crystal ball?) but you can really read my motivations from just a few words and you're usually dead-on and frankly? Sometimes it freaks me out. Even when I try to pretend otherwise it's like you KNOW anyway and I'm like feeling all Being John Malkovich-ish "Get out of my head!". Yeah, like that. You, my dear, are just genius at what you do. I feel like one day I'm going to say, "Yeah I read her blog way back when she was Rassles and now she's winning a fucking Pulitzer prize." You truly have a gift and the fact that you take the time to read my blog and bully me on Ask, well it makes me swoon. And now I'm off to get drunk.

  16. Yeah I think that one of the most interesting parts of reading Ask is the personalities of the reviewers. I LIKE that they review according to their tastes, but it's also a reason that I would never submit my blog there (that and it is an underdeveloped ridiculous poetry musing blog of a kid). And yeah it seems that they like certain types of blogs - they like them to be personal diaries, but without the mundane. They like them to be concise, personal, pretty etc.
    In any case, I think nothing beats raw emotion. And I haven't read your whole archives. But I added you because I liked the first few posts I saw on your page and I like your newer stuff too!

    p.s. Thanks for the kind words. The thing about No.Va. was kind of a fragment and I should have explained it more properly. I live in the maryland portion of the metropolitan D.C. area and go to school in D.C. - I have a TON of friends who live in NOVA area (arlington, alexandria even as far as fairfax) and we make fun of them a lot. It's mostly a joke except that these people who got on the metro were exactly the kind of affluent hip kids I see toodling around vienna and clarendon and I looove to hate them.

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  18. Well for what it is worth Gwen I have your blog safely tucked away in my reader. Even though I am not a regular commenter I do read every post that you write and I enjoy your writing. cheers Kim :)

  19. a couple years ago they reviewed my blog and totally trashed it. i was upset but then i was all like "how could i possibly be brought down by someone who can't think anything worse of me than the fact that i have a child and write about the experience?"

    sounds like there is nothing worse said about you other than the fact that you are going thru some shit and are writing about the experience.

  20. I adore your blog. I adore dark chocolate almonds, Fred Astaire, and Manhattan subway stations. I really don't think tastes equal quality - people can like different things without being better than each other.

    The self-aware reviewer was pretty clear that this was a "it's not you, it's me" in terms of tastes, and only said a thing or two about intrinsic quality.

    Plus, what kind of frame are you choosing to use: the one negative or the tripillion positives?

    You're good. You're real good. Frame that!

  21. I think you've received some great advice here.

    I happen to really love your blog. I love how you get so deep and so personal. That's the area I lack in my own blog even though I definitely could go there if I reached for it. It's a scary road to travel down for me. You do inspire me to do that though.

    Maybe one day I will.

  22. frogspond/Kim - you are so tucked in my reader, too. Thanks for reading. And I'm the same way - Sometimes I read but don't comment. I'm going to work on that, though.

    Laura Collins - It's really an honor to have you reading over here. To me, you are like a blog superstar. I've been reading your blog a long time. The work you do is so important and I just want you to know how amazing I think you are as a writer, a mother, and an advocate for families struggling with eating disorders. Thanks for reading what I put out here. It means a lot.

    Candice - I found your blog on Ask after Betsey reviewed you. And now I'm a regular reader and love so much of what you do. Of course, I don't always agree but I'm sure you feel that way about my blog too. I can tell by your posts that there is a lot that you don't say, a lot of stories underneath the printed words. I hope one day you find the courage to tell them. I'll definitely be reading.

  23. Lora - Criticism is hard to hear but I've also heard some positives. Now that a few days have passed, I'm glad I submitted for review. The truth hurts but it can be a catalyst for change and improvement. Thanks for your kind comment. It was really awesome meeting you and your family last week. I'm looking forward to the brunch in May!

  24. As a newbie to your blog, I can only say that what I have read is beyond one star! The thing about art (and writing is an art, right?) is that it is so personal. To the writer, to the reader. I was once debating submitting a story I wrote for publication because I was so afraid of getting a rejection slip. Then I read about how Dr. Seuss was rejected 35 times for The Cat in The Hat.

    You can't go wrong when being yourself. People will connect to you on paper just like they do in life. They will cross your bridge, which in my opinion seem very sturdy, inviting and stong.

  25. 1 star was a bit harsh, but you've got the right attitude. These things can be - as you pointed out - a needed kick in the ass. My review was the same thing, I disagreed with a lot of what the reviewer said, but she was dead right about other things. And there's nothing better than an unbiased opinion.

    Best of all, these reviews - harsh or not - can bring you new readers. I'm glad I've found your site.