I Come Not To Praise Caesar…
During the time that I have been blathering away in blogs and comments, here on OS, I’ve noticed that there seems to be a small number of very different types of blogger who contribute their work here. I see two broad categories. There are those who write pretty serious essays on matters of social/economic/political or instructional content and there are those who write tales, poetry, autobiographical, and photographic blogs.
Those in the first category need only write in a clear and understandable manner. They need not have great writing skills, although some certainly do.
Those in the second category are of two broad types. There are those who want, with all their hearts and souls, to write well. They are here to learn/practice to do that. There are also those who write here, usually offering autobiographical content, who are doing so to maintain or to improve their mental health or simply to share their lives and concerns with others in a friendly and accepting ambiance. My concern, in this blog, is this last two segments of our OS community.
I think it would be well for us to learn to separate them in our minds for the purpose of responding to them in comments on their blogs. I have noticed that we have the habit of responding to both categories with praise and support. This is a wonderfully humane and helpful thing to those trying to solve personal difficulties whose need is to be comforted and loved while they re-gain their stability and to those who are “sharing” personal experiences.
This is not, however, of any help at all to aspiring writers. We, who are in this category, cannot improve if always being complimented on our scribblings. We also do not assist other wannabe writers when we pay unwarranted compliments to their efforts either. This becomes a case of mutual masturbation – or even a circle jerk – offering a certain amount of pleasure but otherwise of little value; and sometimes even harmful in that someone being unduly praised may not come to know of his shortcomings as a writer. None of us can improve what we don’t know needs improvement.
I’d like to ask my fellow OSers what they think of the idea that each person here who wishes to be considered to be in the category of “writers & aspiring writers” to insert this information at the beginning of each blog they write that falls into this category. I’d like to suggest that when someone labels himself as an “aspiring writer/writer” that we examine his offerings with a view to pointing out any things that seem to detract from it. Such things as poor spelling, grammatical errors, punctuation problems, run-on sentences and other technical errors can be mentioned and suggestions made.
Content can be evaluated for originality, presentation, etc. No one commenting on such offerings needs to be of high technical skill; only a reader who sees anomalies in the story he is reading. It is, in the end, always the reader who determines how well a tale is told.
Those who write to improve and learn ought to get over expecting “compliments” and pats on the head and expect to see helpful criticism and valuable suggestions. Oh yes, some of the suggestions might have little or no value but those will likely be outweighed by those that do.
So what thinkest thou, my fellow OS scribblers? Are you interested in being nudged toward improving your writing skills in this way? Are you willing to nudge other OS aspiring writers also?