What's the best compliment or nicest thing someone has said about your writing?

Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by Laurin Kelly, Mar 3, 2017.

  1. Xander17

    Xander17 Member Supporter

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    I'm a writer, unpublished, though hopefully before the year is out...but based on the last 30 years of writing experiences, writing is an integral part of my soul. It's the #1 way I express myself.

    Here's the compliments over the years that I can recall that have accumulated into a realisation that my purpose is to be a professional writer.

    First one I recall is from my ex father-in-law during my 20s, the early years of my doomed marriage. On a whim I decided to write him a letter. A few pages of a typical "Hi, how's things? letter turned into a 30-40 page epic Creatively writing about all manner of things stemming and tangenting off common letter subjects like weather and the kids, etc...even writing pages inspired by common words or phrases that would never be seen in day to day conversations.

    He said it was like reading a cross between Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Catch 22. I read Zen a few years prior (5 times in a row during a nasty bout of Depression and suicidal thoughts), and Catch 22 was one of my fav movies, first seeing it in my teen years. ( watched it again recently, though found the book difficult to get into)

    That compliment made me feel good regarding how I think and express myself. No thoughts of being a writer yet.

    A few years later, uncomfortably thrust (discomfort due to low self-esteem and zero experience, of being introverted and not wanting to be a leader or the center of attention) into doing Sunday School at the 2nd last church I attended, at the end of the year all SS teachers were invited to be part of a SS presentation for the congregation. I created and presented my short lesson on a spiritual aspect. An Elder, of whom I was fond of an inspired by, told me that I could be a teacher for he found the way I presented the info was clear, simple, concise and engaging. This was the first seed sown towards my future occupation, but unaware of it at the time. Though the experience was deeply embedded.

    Several years later, mid 30's now, marriage newly over, new church, single parenting, in a lot of pain. Each week I'd fill out the prayer request forms. The one short line wasn't enough space. I'd spend a huge portion of the sermons filling every empty space on both sides of these forms with details of our current plights...expressing myself much like how I'm doing now.

    One morning, one of the associate pastors saddled up to me, we chatted for a while. I imagine to get to know me more due to his intrigue of the perosn who writes these lengthy prayer requests. He said most of them looked forward to mondays for that was the day they read my requests. It was he who remarked that I should be a writer, based on various elements of my writing style. We talked more, and in that convo I began to see the succession of writing experiences and my passion for it that initiated the thought that I was to be a writer.

    During this decade I also discovered the internets and forums. In one christian forum, I'd sometimes receive compliments for the insights I shared. Folks appreciating the way I dealt with their problems, either providing info that solved their problem or inspiring them to keep going or to feel good about themselves during their dark times.

    I would also write crazy fun stuff and fiction in the social sections. One such event were a few short stories about the adventures of myself and Jet Su Shi, a penguin. This was before Surfs Up and any other Penguin stuff in movies. Penguins are one of my Totem Animals. Several folks enjoying the stories and anticipated the next installment. These were different compliments due to different aspects of my writing abilities, but still adding to my vision of becoming a writer when ever I'd think of it.

    While folks waited for the next installment, one day I was once again overcome with Depression and suicidality and I translated that suffering into killing off Jet Su Shi and my alter ego. My fellow forum members were shocked, for the manifestation of Hell was swift and there were no signs of trouble brewing. They were expecting another cute and wacky adventure and they got a nasty death and destruction one instead. They knew of my problems for I'm pretty open about my inner workings, though I imagine they felt they could offer no help, thus the demise of The Jet Su Shi stories was never discussed other than a few short statements of disappointment.

    Now in my 40's deconverted from Christianity, still hangin' out in forums, one at a time. I recall one story I wrote, either the one about the leaf or the leeches in my fav rainforest I would hang out in.
    One girl saying upon reading it that she felt as if she were there in the rainforest, that my writng had transported her in a big way. I wasn't even trying to, I just tried to express what it felt like for me. At this time in my life I just wrote because I enjoyed it. I enjoyed verbal communication. There was no conscious planning or development going on regarding my future occupation.

    The idea for the book I've just finished the first draft of, was several years down the track. That is, the idea to be a published author, to write a book instead of simply enjoying writing article style and sized posts in forums, had yet to become a serious matter to me.

    But as I look back, all the compliments, the observations and suggestions from others, plus all the various types of "dabbling" stuff I've written, were all part of the development journey towards this current soon to be realised goal.

    My writing has made a small number of folks laugh, cry, be inspired, made them think, feel good about themselves and change themselves in order to have a better quality of life. I've also received an equal amount of negative feedback. Some folks just hate or simply don't rez with many aspects of myself and how I express my thoughts and feelings on matters.

    I think this is to be expected. There's no way I can be everyone's cup of tea. Shit, most family members no longer like hangin' out with me. But as a writer, what is worth focusing on is the positive connections that've been made. The most imporant positive connection is the one I have with myself.

    I enjoy and appreciate all the work I've done. I've learnt to cease being concerned about external validation during the creation period. I like what I've written so I share it with others. That seems like a no-brainer. The key was to not be concerned about feedback while creating, but honestly listen to it once you've shared, in order to hone your craft, as honing is done regardless of an audience or not. I think I've had enough positive feedback in the small circles I've shared to conclude I have a reasonable chance to be successful.
     
  2. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    I took it as a compliment, because they meant (and I know that's what they meant because we discussed it afterwards) that they became immersed in the story itself, and began to read it as if it were a book they'd just picked up off a shelf. That, to me, is the ultimate compliment. I want to be invisible as an author. I just want people to get sucked into my story.

    I've had the same experience myself, when reading stories from some people I 'know.' And it's one of the things that tells me they've cracked it. I love that moment when I forget I'm supposed to be critiquing, and just start reading for pleasure.
     
  3. Xander17

    Xander17 Member Supporter

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    That's interesting. I doubt I would've ever considered that. Perhaps due to I'm not a fiction writer, and the small amount of fictional stories I've shared, it was never my conscious intent. But thinking about it now, it seems logical to want your reader to be immersed and transported.

    I think it might also have something to do with not being a fiction reader. I immerse myself in the tons of movies I've watched and am aware I've done so, but simply have next to zero experience with books.

    Connection. Disconnecting from this reality and immersing in the one created by the author. Nice!
     
  4. Zerotonin

    Zerotonin Serotonin machine broke Contest Administrator Supporter

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    After reading my most recent story, my mother said, "How do you come up with this shit? It's freaky as hell!" Proud doesn't begin to describe scaring your own mother with a short horror story.
     
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  5. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Just tell her it's autobiographical. :p
     
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  6. Xander17

    Xander17 Member Supporter

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    Been thinking about this.
    Back in the day when I was insecure and ignorant of human nature, I unconsciously required external validation to feel good about myself.

    I think it's a natural part of human nature. A conditioning we experience within our social environment. We grow up conditioned to believe that our worth is judged by what others think of us. We feel good about ourselves if others like us, and we feel bad when we're not. I think there's pros and cons to this process that depends on the context of each situation.

    Took me decades to learn about self-worth. Not because it takes a long time. It just took a long time for me to realise the value and importance of contemplation and self development and that these things exist. I think one way this external validation occurs is as a child I didn't have the intellect and knowledge to understand, thus through conditioning and various pre-wired programs, I unconsciously valued myself according to others responses to me.

    Came across this quote a while back that hi-lights one problem with external validation.

    "Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes." - @debihope (Twitter)

    External validation is an imperfect means if one exists in a society filled with dysfunctional people, and that seems to be the case according to my observations. Seriously dysfunctional folks are easy to spot, but upon contemplation, I've yet to meet a person who isn't messed up in one way or another.

    The quote seems to hit the nail right on the head concerning how my low self-esteem was developed. However, I later learned this...

    "He has great tranquility of heart who cares neither for the praises nor the fault-finding of men." - Honore' de Balzac

    ...which I interpret as, if secure in oneself, in one's evaluation of oneself, of being proud of one's positive qualities and non-condemning of one's negatives, my self-worth is not subject to compliments or insults. I don't accept compliments if they're invalid, nor do I with insults.

    If secure in myself, self-worth must already be active in order to share a work. I must already think the work is good and I must already feel good about myself regarding my attributes used for the work. Therefore some accepted compliments are a confirmation and not an addition, which inspires me to continue whatever I've been doing to produce that work.

    Thoughtful feedback from others hi-lights what I already think of myself and the work, and can also hi-light aspects I hadn't considered. Thoughtful unfavourable feedback is also useful, hi-lighting problematic, weak or non-existent elements that I can choose to sort out. If I'm secure in myself, I won't be offended by such feedback, hence finding it useful.

    Deeply secure results in never being offended by any type of unfavourable opinion. Being insulted are now wonderful experiences for me. That's a wondrous story in itself saved for the potential second or third book I want to write.

    I collected this from the quote thread...
    "Growing old is mandatory. Growing up is optional." - Chili Davis

    I think it's an unhealthy or non-beneficial state to be in if one needs external validation to assign value to oneself. But it seems, unless adequately taught in our youth, we naturally seek it as children. It just seems to be how we humans operate, and soul growth not being an automatic process, that it requires conscious effort, therefore the problem is when folks don't develop self-worth and continue to seek it externally.

    However, the @debihope quote hi-lights the interconnectivity of our existence. We consciously or unconsciously utilise feedback from our interactive experiences to fomulate our opinion of ourselves. And what I failed to realise for decades was regardless of age or circumstances, I was and continue to be the sole author of the state of my Being.

    My self-worth was always my creation, and was never controlled by external elements.
    True that experiences are required, are catalysts for formulation of thoughts and beliefs, but they're not the authors. I therefore think being secure in oneself is a healthy way to interface within the realm of writing, for it enables you to boldly write what you want to write and make use of any type of feedback.

    Writing is like being a pioneer explorer. You have to be secure in your abilities to traverse the unknown terrain of the new work you desire to produce, and be able to make use of or deal with any situation that may arise from the adventure.

    I'll stop here 'cus I see there's still more landscape to explore.
    And yep, this is the kind of stuff that I write about.
     
  7. Nariac

    Nariac Active Member

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    "It's going to be pretty hard for you to dethrone Terry Pratchett as my favourite author, but if you continue like this..."
     
  8. Xander17

    Xander17 Member Supporter

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    Now that's a compliment and a half.

    Admittedly, due to not being well read, especially fiction, though the name sounded familiar, I had to google the man.
    Decided on this link as a small window into the man.

    What I sometimes find frustrating is there's so many things in life to experience that so many things go unexperienced.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2018
  9. l nimbus

    l nimbus Member

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    THIS. From a PROFESSIONAL author.

    Note that i'm an amateur, unpublished and only posting on a free-to-read site.

     
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