Tuesday, November 30, 2010

You're Much Happier in Person

Recently, as part of an improve-your-writing challenge, I asked for feedback on my writing.  A few brave souls trusted that I meant it (I did) and offered some.  Kudos to you for your bravery.  And thank you.

To me, feedback is like telling someone they have spinach in their teeth.  It might be awkward, but it helps them avoid future embarrassment.  I believe you should ask a person if they want feedback before offering it (unless they ask you for it).  And I believe feedback and criticism are two very different things.  It's not feedback if you are telling them about something you don't like that they have no way to fix.  It's not feedback if it's meant to hurt or tease or make you look better than them.

One thing that a couple of people told me was that I seem much happier in person than I come across in my writing.  That my writing seems darker than I really am.

Being the introspective person that I am, I thought about this.  Is it true?  Am I misrepresenting myself in my writing?  Am I misrepresenting myself in person?  Why don't these two personas align?

Like most things in life, it's complicated.

While I would like to be incredibly genuine at all times, sometimes I still put on a happy face when I'm out.  Not as much as I used to.  Not to people I trust.  Usually just in passing or with people I don't really know.  Or if I'm not up to talking about what's bothering me. 

And then there's the fact that if I'm outside of my house, I'm probably feeling better.  If I feel better then I'm happier.  It's that simple.

Plus, being with people, especially certain people, makes me happier, too.

I can also be more intimate in my writing than I can in everyday situations.  There just aren't that many opportunities to sit and chat for hours with a friend.  Privately so I can get it all out without worrying about being judged or others overhearing.  Writing serves that purpose for me.  Writing is very intimate.  I can say what I feel without anyone else's emotions coloring it.  And things come out in my writing that I might not have known about myself, that I might not have even known I was feeling.

When I don't feel well I stay home.  I stay in my room.  Just me and my computer.  That leaves more writing time.  When I feel well I am out and about and don't have as much time (or need) to write.

I also feel a need to capture the dark times.  For me and for others.  It's so difficult to communicate those feelings to others.  It's difficult to remember them when they pass.  But it's important to try, if only so others know they are not alone.

All of that said, I know my writing has been darker for a long period of time (until maybe the last week or two).  I have been in a darker place.  One that won't break.  But even in the midst of this I don't feel sad most of the time.  People sometimes think that because I write about dark feelings I am sad.  That's not always the case.  I have sad moments and happy moments, just like everyone else.  Some are just longer than others.  I don't think my life is horrible or tragic.  I also don't think it's peaches and cream.

Realizing that my writing has been dark, I have asked myself if I should write more positively anyway -- in spite of how I feel.  No one has asked me to do this.  But some people do miss my positivity.  (It didn't feel like criticism, just that the other me was missed.)  Maybe my dark writing will drive people away.

Trust me.  I have thought about this a lot.

And this is my conclusion.  I will watch for this in my life.  I will watch for more positive things.  I will look for happy.  And I will make it a point to try to write when I am in a better place.

But I won't fake it.  As much as I love having other people read my writing, it's not really for you.  It's for me.  If it is meeting your needs and not mine, then it's just not worth it to me anymore.

And that's another thing that's beautiful about feedback.  You can examine it, weigh it, and decide what you want to do with it.  Implement all, some, or none of it.  Without this freedom it loses it's power.


MaggieJo said...

perfect. that is exactly what I was trying to say but I kind of stink at this whole writing business. I can't tell you how much I enjoy you being you.

Just Another Person said...

I think you analyzed yourself pretty well here. Its true for me too that I tend to write about darker and heavier topic, and I probably seem really like a happy person to most people. Well, I treat my blog like a place for my inner feeling to come out, and I don't want to write to impress my readers. I want to keep it about me and my health, if the readers dont like what you write, Im sure they will not read it again.

keep writing the way you are doing. I like it.

Cheryl D. said...

I think you are being true to yourself. Some people like to be funny when they blog. Some people rather write about things that they are struggling with. I think you fit more into the second category. But that doesn't mean you go around your life like that all the time!

Sherri said...

i like the way you handled the feedback.

i like to get the opinions of others... i don't know why... oh, who am i kidding, yes i do... it's a source of validation. my ego... i don't like that about me...

my writing is sometimes on the darker side too... but at the same time it's sarcastic..and some find that humorous... when i sit down to write, i just write... i don't plan it or think about it and never edit other than for spelling... and when i communicate in person with someone, there is always some mental editing and sometimes that gets tiring...

your writing feels very honest to me... that's what draws me to your blog... honest... i like that

Kazzy said...

I think rawness is one thing that writing is kind of meant for.

But define "raw". Does it have to mean dark? Are there raw moments that are completely joyful and pure? I would imagine most writers/bloggers also have those moments. Real ones.

Funny, but I read plenty of blogs where the writers only write saccharine, happy stuff constantly. I am not sure I buy that either. I like the dimension of the whole spectrum.

OK, I am not trying to sound so impossible to please. I guess when people write about feelings it is easy to just write when there is some cloud threatening a thunderstorm.

Kind of like the way my married son only calls lately when he needs me to help solve a problem.

But that is a whole different post...

Dawnelle said...


Anonymous said...

that's what people say to me all the time...that I'm 'much happier in person' o_O And they are so right....even if I don't like to admit it. Cause, when people say that, I always feel like two poeple in one body...which makes me quite uncomfortable.


p.s.:I like anything you write...positive or negative =)

Jessica Grosland said...

People seem to have a very shallow idea of emotions. A person is happy OR they are sad. That's stupid. There are so many billions of emotions coursing through the body, and the more self-aware we become, the more we realize that we often feel many ways at once.

When you write about something dark, you may be sad about what happened, angry that it had to happen, pleased that you're able to talk about it, proud that you endured, concerned about others involved, reflective about what effect the experience had on you, and who knows what else?

Nothing is as cut-and-dry as being either sad or happy. There is history in every written word, because your entire life experience up to that point affects how you write. If you have had a harsh life, your writing may seem harsher to those who've lived in comfort. But a harsh life does not always result in an unhappy person. This is what people don't understand.

I guess what I'm saying is "Don't go changing to try and please me." If you ever lost your quality of being genuine, your writing would be dead.

Penny said...

I have to agree with you. I write alot of crappy depressing stuff on my blog. I don't do it intentionally, but when I'm in a good mood I go about my day happily and it's when I'm having a bad day or something is upsetting me that I use my blog because I need to get it out.

Bonnie said...

Writing is so much like conversing ... something is happening on both sides of the equation, and we can't control that. I like what Jess said about how one thing is many things, because I think seeing the big picture means seeing those many things as often as we can when we're on the listening end of the conversation. For 30 years I've been an avid reader of deep things and grown poignantly aware that when my eyes starting running over those characters, I'm going to have an experience. I take responsibility for that. When I open my mouth, I usually have an experience as well, because either in someone's eyes or in their feedback, I discover the experience they're having. Life, and conversation, and writing, is about being changed. That's a good thing.

Mama-Face said...

i fight with myself over the fact that any time i post only the 'dark' side of me comes through. it's always been that way for me-and when i feel the darkness is when i feel the need to write the most.

truly unhelpful comment, i just want to say i've caught up with a few of your latest posts and i find myself nodding my head (in my mind) in agreement quite often. i'd like to sit down with you in person and have one of those nice chats. i wonder if we could really share our true feelings in person as much as through writing.

dark isn't the equivalent of evil. at least not completely.

ps. as you can see i've made no attempt to edit or be more clear in sharing my thoughts. i apologize.

Angel said...

Love this!!

Claire said...

I absolutely adore the comment about giving feedback being similar to telling someone they have spinach in their teeth!
I commend you for asking for feedback, and I love that you are taking what you can grow from and moving forward.
Keep writing. I love reading it.

Anonymous said...

Feedback is a good thing - (and it IS always better if we ask for it first :)

I have to say that your writing doesn't depress me... It think you have a way with words... you get your point across, but you mix in your (not always dark) humor... You're relatable... I enjoy your posts... I don't enjoy reading when you're going through a hard time... that's not what I'm saying - I'm just saying you have quite a way with words....

Take care,
P.S. - I think you share positivity too - in your own way... :)

Amy @ Journey Mum said...

Funny thing is I've been told that I come across as extremely positive in my writing, whereas I am not a positive person!
I think it is ok to share the dark stuff but it is healthier for you (and me) to not dwell on it indefinitely. I try to look for the positive because I believe that like attracts like, and I'd rather have the good stuff!