February 10th- The 2009 Protagonists' Diary

Dear Diary

Can we be honest here?  I do hope so.

This is kind of a follow-up to Jack's entry the other day.  Yes, it's that sometimes sensitve issue of commenting.

When I say, can we be honest here, I don't just mean in the pages of this diary, I mean here, on this site.

I like to think that I'm basically a nice, kind, caring person.  My friends tell me that what they like about me.  That's probably why I became a nurse, all those years ago. 

But nice people are not always honest people, sadly.  They don't like to hurt the feelings of others, so very often they withhold things, rather than saying things that they really want to say, even when they know that their motives for saying them come from a good place... a helpful and supportive place.

On the very rare occasions I make a comment that is less than the glowing praise I usually give, I do so with my breath held, waiting for a backlash. 

And when the almost inevitable backlash comes,  (it may be a snappish reply; it might be a low rating straight afterwards)  I say to myself "I told you so.  What did you expect?  You weren't being nice.  Don't do it again!."  No wonder we feel we can't be honest here, when we're all such sensitive souls...

But, the thing is, on those very rare occasions, I never, ever, ever mean it as a personal attack on the writer.  I am commenting on the writing, and not the writer. And I only ever do it because I am trying to be helpful. If I feel that someone's work is beyond help, I don't even bother commenting at all. And I try my very hardest to word it nicely, so as not to hurt someone's feelings, because I know how I react to criticism, too.

I know a lot of people here are here, not just for fun, but to get genuine and honest feedback on their work, as well as to make a friend or two.  Some of us aspire to be published one day.  I know I do - I make no secret of it.  So how will we react when we start getting those rejection letters.  We can't snap an offended reply back to the agent or publisher. can we? We can't go into a bookshop and scribble over the pages of other works they published instead of ours.  We wouldn't dream of it.

How can we expect to toughen our skins for the big wide world of publishing if we can't accept critique gratefully and graciously in the tiny village of Protagonize?

Tricia x

The End

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