When Poor Writing Leads to Misunderstanding

Writerly Rant #86 ~

By M.J. Moores, OCT. Author. Editor.

Funny (strange) thing happened recently, the older gentleman who uploads articles to the blog of the new writers group I’m attending has inadvertently caused quite a stir. Upon first being introduced to this individual a month ago I was taken aside and told, “You have to take what he says with a grain of salt – he doesn’t mean to come off brash it’s just part of his nature.”

Self-Reflection, Lauren - The Writing Success Program @ UCLA

Self-Reflection, Lauren – The Writing Success Program @ UCLA

My reply was, “I like him.”

Yes, it was true that he became abrupt when I asked him to clarify a critique comment he made about my writing, but generally speaking he’s a forthright guy whose opinion is valuable.

I learned a lot during that session.

So he writes a blog post/article about the pros and cons of joining an ‘open’ writers group (like the one we both belong to). The problem is his title reflects ‘considerations for joining a writing group’ and nowhere does he actually say that the piece is a pro-con one.

And there’s the rub.

Several other members of this group read his blog post and were immediately offended by what he said. They took his words to be a direct attack on the way our writers group is being run… even I got this impression on first read but when I started analyzing what he was saying, I realized he contradicted himself quite a bit (hence the pro-con angle):

On the one hand he said he enjoyed prompt writing and the sharing of it with others but due to the varied nature of everyone’s writing bent (genre/category/etc.) that working with prompts isn’t always the most beneficial strategy for such a group. Then he went on to say that if he’s unable to utilize a given prompt to aid him in his memoir-type writing then he’ll bow-out and simply listen to what others have to offer.

From there he touches on what kind of quality critique can be had by writers of one genre (say fantasy) to writers of another genre (say memoir) – or a screenwriter to a poet kind of thing. And yet, in the next breath he goes on to say that ideally any writer committed to their craft would have the ability to contribute/critique any other piece of writing and getting new perspectives can really help.

Lastly, he ponders whether a writing hobbyist would get as much out of a writers group as a committed writer on a publishing path (be it Indy, Small or Large Press).

I’m sure you can see why some readers might believe that he’s attacking the growth and diversity of our writing group… he’s not clear about his intentions for this blog (pros-cons) and because he specifically mentions the writing group he’s apart of it appears that his comments are directed toward us.

Now, the very same person who took me aside and warned me not to take what this man says to heart and to understand that he’s just like that, questioned his motives for writing this blog.

Had I not written this man and asked him straight up what his intention was behind writing the post, I wouldn’t have known there was no ill-will intended and it was, simply, a poorly written blog article that was meant to help writers who were not part of a group to reflect on what they would want from such a group (and whether or not that group would be able to give them what they wanted).

Needless to say, since I’m the next facilitator for the month of June the first item on the agenda will be exactly that: are you satisfied with this writers group – is it in fact meeting your needs as a writer? The first and only thing this gentleman had intended to say in his article.


Categories: Rants, Writerly Rants

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 replies

  1. It sounds like his blog entry is a good example of why you need to edit your work. You need to read it as though you are not attached to it. Try to look through someone else’s eyes and determine if what you said makes sense. Don’t just write a blog and post it without reading it several times to make sure you said what you intended. I hope your June meeting goes well. 🙂


    • Agreed, Nanci – too bad I don’t feel like I can tell him that… I think, he’d think I was crazy… he’s in his late 60s early 70s and highly opinionated. I don’t know him well enough yet 😉 The June meeting should be interesting at the very least!


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