Saturday, March 21, 2015

Answering Critics...or Barking Up the Wrong Tree

As much as I detest dirty laundry in public...I've got to say something here that might torque a few screws. The topic at hand is something all writers must deal with-  criticism. Bear in mind this doesn't include thoughtful commentary, which I love- even when it runs counter to my opinion. The difference can be vague and admittedly can be based on how I feel at any particular moment, day or occasion but thoughtful commentary is appreciated while an ad hominem attack on me or my work is not.

In short- I will typically not respond to criticism via email or comments. Just won't do it. Wouldn't be prudent.

Allow me to explain in brief since these are recurring patterns.
1. Criticism of my writing style. I appreciate the feedback but I don't have time to engage in long private discourses on the merits of the Oxford comma and my considerable love of hyperbole. I primarily write this for my own personal amusement, ego stroking, etc...generally without revision. So expect some mistakes, I'm human. Putting twenty hours into a 2000 word unpaid blog post isn't something I can do- sorry, now go find some illiterate person and teach them to read and write.

2. Criticism of my opinion. I've formed my opinions over many years of personal experience. Your experiences may have lead you to different opinions. That's OK. Since the content I have presented here varies from narratives, techno rifle geekery and some Op-Ed type stuff- it's a mixed bag. If you disagree with me that the .30-06 is a dreadfully boring cartridge choice or that the Chuitna Coal mine is a bad deal for Alaska, so be it. Belittling me is unlikely to change that and I don't feel compelled to explain myself to everyone who can hit 'send' on an email. I also do not "owe" you equal time to express your opinion on my forum. Blogger is still free, so have at it. Again, this does not include well reasoned correspondence- as a guide,  if your note to me includes the word "idiot" "moron" or "dumbass" then it likely doesn't make the cut.

3. Criticism of my vocation. I am an outdoorsman: a hunter, an angler, and a gatherer. Many, if not most, of my activities are pretty hunting-centric. I feel like I'm a respectful guy in the field- I respect the animals, the environment and my fellow outdoors-folks alike. Trust me- "hoople-heads" in the field bother me more than they bother you. And for the love of God, do not ask me if I "ate that animal I murdered" one more time.  The answer is, I DID and will do so until I am no longer able.

So there- sorry for the little rant but my email inbox is becoming increasingly filled with correspondence from people "taking me to task" for all sorts of things, including not responding to their "taking me to task". Some advice I got a very long time ago from a writer I respect a great deal was simply this, "If you believe you have something interesting to say- say it with conviction. And never, ever, ever....respond to a critic."

I see no reason to not follow his lead.

Thanks for your patience.
Hodgeman

2 comments:

Dennis Carroll said...

Mike,

Great post.

My sentiments exactly.

Although I never crafted such a well defined piece, I reduced my "unpaid" blogging because of the points you outlined.

Thanks for your opinion. It counts.

Dennis A Carroll

Phillip said...

Never apologize, never explain.

Among others, Ed Abbey wrote those words (who knows who said it first), and if it was good enough for him...

I guess the upshot is that you're getting reaction and feedback. Folks are, apparently, reading your stuff. That's a net positive, even if some of the readers are negative.

I'll always respond to a reasonable email, even if it's from an anti-hunter. I don't mind discourse, but like you, once the name-calling starts, it's over. Life is way, WAY too short for that foolishness.

So keep at it, and yeah, the 30-06 may be boring, but it's the most beautiful boring I've ever carried in the field. ;-)