Another “writers’ site occupies some of my energies. When I signed-up there, I thought what the site stood for would push-pull me into settling into the work of writing, minimizing social encumbrances. Writers there would do, well, writing. More experienced writers would criticize, guide and direct. Younger writers would have interesting interpretations and the sharper young ones also guide and direct. I was/am prepared to respond in kind. Hmmm. Writers must be people too. I expected too much.
Upshot: my expectations were and remain unfulfilled.
It is a “social” site. Five weeks in, I see it is more “social” than a place to study craft. Debilitatingly so. “Aha,” some sage persons among you say to me, “you harvest from the field according to the sweat you leave there.” Or some such. I can’t agree more. Here’s the deal:
(Six paragraphs here trashed. Anybody want to guess why?)
There are a disproportionate number of young, even early teen “writers” on the site. Screen names and bio pictures rarely clue gender or age. “What does that matter?” you ask. When you read a “dark, woe is me” effort, it is impossible to know if you are dealing with an alter ego or the current state of mind of the author; what age, what gender? Constructive critique must be couched in pseudo-praise. Often, I am so unsure of the author’s mental makeup, I refuse to comment, period.
On the flip side, “constructive” comments on my efforts run the gamut from “love this” to “Oh, wow!” which is not tremendously helpful. Asking for reviewers to be honest, even brutal, gets zip. I suspect fearful of retribution.
No one learns, no one grows.
If you’ve read any of my work, you know I am not “dark” but certainly caustic, cynical, and speak “adult” more often than “oh that’s so pretty.” My humor is couched in real life. That means I’m going to be realistic. I’m sorry, we don’t all speak Sunday School Monday through Saturday. Most of us. Older works I want reviewed I cannot, with easy conscience, put in front of children. I realize (and have seen) the kids there could hold class on modern scatology. Nonetheless I feel, as an adult, a responsibility.
Finally, I realize the latest trend, so as not to interfere with facepages, clutter, IM, and instachat time, is preference for literature in one thousand words or less. I can allow that, and vampires, werewolves, time travel, and Gothic romance, but not always in the space of five-hundred words and not to the exclusion of good dialogue, character, locale, and plot development. Genius can put a full, meaningful plot, setting, start and conclusion in five hundred words. Hemingway could. I challenge anyone to put more than three characters and forty years, birth, life, and death down succinctly in five hundred or a thousand words. Not even Hemingway, I think.
Egos come into play more than I would expect. For the personalities I’ve witnessed, I’ve coined a new word: egonarcissism. Means exactly what you’d expect. All writers are afflicted. Including me. But it is epidemic in some places. Add that to the list of things I need to work on.
S P Wilcenski 6-22-2020