Deflecting an Awkward Situation

If someone asks to read my stuff I gladly provide them with some of my stories or poems. But first I tell them I will never ask them if they liked the work or even if they read it. Why? Because it avoids embarrassment. There is nothing more awkward, for both parties, than having to tell an author you didn’t like their story or poem or novel.

So I get that issue out of the way right from the get go. Read my stuff. I hope you like it, but if you don’t I will never put you in the position of having to say so to my face.

Here’s the thing: Just because you are friends with someone does not necessarily mean you are going to like their writing. Same goes for your relatives, your spouse, your co-workers, your clients, and your neighbors. All of these people can love, adore, and respect you, and still hate your work. Or be indifferent to it. Or be put to sleep by it.

There’s nothing wrong with that.

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4 Responses to Deflecting an Awkward Situation

  1. Stephanie says:

    I still find it disconcerting – even though I know you’re right. Somehow it’s worse than their saying that they don’t like the same ice cream or even the same movie … but not quite as bad as that they don’t like the way my spoken voice sounds – or the way I sing. Almost. But not quite that bad.

  2. Dave says:

    Amen, Mario. The fact that many of my friends don’t get what I’m doing in my writing doesn’t bother me a bit. I count myself extremely fortunate that both my parents like my stuff. But neither of my brothers makes the effort to read it, offering instead fatuous praise – that’s something I could do without.

  3. Theriomorph says:

    I do the same, re: not putting people in that situation – my particular peeve, though, is that when people find out I’m a writer, they immediately start throwing their manuscripts at me as though I don’t have stacks and stacks of them to read from paid work, and will be interested in either teaching them or editing their work for free. In all my free time. And with all my extra money. You know.

    I can forestall this with humor sometimes, but it can be awkward with friends. I wish people wouldn’t do this, particularly when they’re sending bad work and I know they don’t actually want criticism but they do expect a response. Ugh. Hits all my politeness buttons, and drives me crazy at the same time.

    Anyway.

    I do also have a strong ethic of always finding something I can honestly praise in someone’s work (has to be honest, but there have been very few occasions when I couldn’t find *something*).

  4. Mario says:

    Yup. Everyone’s got a novel, it seems. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but it doesn’t mean I’m eager to read it. I hear in California everyone has a screenplay, but probably the same situation arises. A lot.

    What can be even worse than that is having someone say something like: “Oh, you’re a writer? Well, let me tell you the story I’m going to write someday which is sure to be a bestseller.” And then they do. In excruciating detail. This has happened to us (Kim and me). That’s why we’re now very wary of telling people we’re writers. Much better to just say we’re unemployable free spirits who choose to live among the fairies. Or something like that.

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