Soooooooo, I received my first negative comment on my blog. I knew it would come eventually; I just never expected it would come from someone close to me. The comment was written after my last published post, a forest dweller tried to kill me, a wild tale about my dealing with a flu bug while at our cabin in the woods. The comment went like this:
“I do not know where people get their sayings. I guess they have to act out their fantasies just to get attention of some sort. Makes no sense to me …..!”
Had the comment come from a complete stranger, I would have shrugged it off and definitely joked about it. I mean who, in their right mind, would fantasize about having the diarrhea in the middle of the night, in the middle of the bush, in an outhouse, no less, all for the sake of getting attention of some sort? I can think of far better things to fantasize about that would garner me much more positive attention than having the
shits diarrhea in the bush.
But the comment wasn’t written by a stranger. It was written by someone I know well, very well, as a matter of fact, and it stung. It stung because I know the person’s intent. It wasn’t meant in jest; it was an attempt to silence me and to discourage me from writing.
However, it didn’t quite work as intended. In fact, it has had the opposite effect. I will not be silenced. I will not stop writing nor will I stop expressing myself. Writing is as much a part of me as is my father’s nose, wit, and sparkling, storytelling eyes. It has spurred me to write more, to keep at it, and to begin to write the story that is buried deep inside me that I was too afraid to write.
I did, however, let the sting sit there for a bit. I let it smoulder until it burned and then I picked myself up, dusted myself off and asked myself, “Why is it that I write? Is it for attention? Fame? Fortune? Is it because I have something worthwhile to say? Do I want to leave a legacy for my children, their children? Is it for the sake of the story? Is it a gift? A calling? A curse?”
It’s simple, really. I write because I love to. It’s natural. It’s liberating. It pours from me as easily as water from a spout. It is a release for me. It brings me tremendous joy and it takes me from the craziness of any day to deep inside my very being. Writing is as much a part of me as is breathing. It makes me feel alive and gives me a confidence I never knew I had.
I also write because I like the process. I like taking an idea, its words and descriptions, and weaving it into a relatable story. It may seem like work to others but for me, it is the opposite. It is invigorating. It breathes life into my sometimes tired soul. It is a pure and absolute, though sometimes frustrating, process and, thanks to the therapy I began back in the fall, I am beginning to see it as a gift. I am even that much closer to calling myself a writer. Goodness gracious, Aunt Matilda, hell may just have frozen over.
And, throughout the process, I am learning just as much about myself, something I was never afforded growing up, as I am about the writing process itself. I have learned that writing fiction isn’t my strong suit but writing personal essays are. I have learned that two of my high school English teachers were right after all (thank you Mr. Fleming and Mr. Price); I have words and stories begging to be written, and, that in time, they would come. I just had to be open to them.
While I don’t think my English teachers had such grandiose plans for me as my writing about plugging a toilet or farting at the most inopportune time while on a date with Sauerkraut, I do think they were trying to tell me that I could write relatable, heartfelt stories that would appeal to others. They saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself and, again, thanks to my therapist and my immediate family, friends and followers, I am beginning to see it, too.
And, thanks to all of you, I am learning that my writing does not always have to be humorous. When I wrote about my struggles with depression, a dark and serious place that I was scared as hell to write about, you embraced me and sent me the best Internet hugs. Instead of tearing me down, you built me up and told me that I was not alone in my struggle. There are no words to adequately describe what that experience taught me except, perhaps to say, that I learned that we get back what we give, sometimes tenfold.
I know that as I continue to write and publish my stories on my Tales from the Cabbage Patch blog, I am going to have to deal with criticism and negative comments. This is a risk we all take when we put ourselves out there whether it be on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any of the other social media platforms available. We just have to know ahead of time how we are going to deal with it when it comes. My plan is to do exactly what Michelle Obama so eloquently suggested at the US Democratic National Convention in 2016, “When they go low, we go high”.
I plan on soaring … which makes perfect sense to me.
My something new: using the ‘blocked’ feature on my social media accounts for the very first time.