I had an upsetting interaction tonight. I saw a blog post where this journal had straight up told this lady that they didn’t want to take her book reviews any more because they were badly written. He didn’t even want to try to edit them, he just outright refused her work. She posted the review in question and had hundreds of comments from people – her fans I guess – assuring her that the editor didn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground, and she was an AWESOME writer!
She’s obviously smart and there were parts that intrigued me but my God, the thing WAS badly written. She completely failed to use proper punctuation, had run-on sentences and used a lot of overwrought and flowery language that seemed just a little off the mark.
So I wrote a comment suggesting that maybe she could seek other feedback about her work, or take a writing class, and maybe consider if there was room for improvement in aspects of her writing. I didn’t WANT to write the comment. I thought as I sat down to write it that it was a waste of time because she wasn’t going to listen to me because she didn’t want to hear it. But I thought that it was such a shame if her work went nowhere because of punctuation and vocabulary and structural flaws overshadowing the ideas, that I’d like to try.
Of course she replied saying that was her writing “style” and that she knew she was a very good writer. She had taken writing classes “as a kid” and worked as a professional editor (that I find hard to believe!)
So I tried again, a little more pointed this time, that maybe considering feedback was a good thing, and improper punctuation isn’t a matter of “style” for prose, and that if I was her editor I would have had to rewrite every sentence. Again, more assertions that her writing is top-notch and that she is perfectly capable of hearing the truth but she only disliked the editor’s approach.
How can you say you are open to “the truth” when the only truth you will consider is the one you want to hear? I mean, geez, it’s like giving someone a hint like “Wow, in summer I sure find it hard to stay cool. I reapply my antiperspirant after I walk/bike to work just because it’s so hot out” and they reply “Well I always smell like a daisy” and you say “Hm, really? I think everyone has to make an extra effort during heat waves” and they say “I smell awesome!” so you finally yell “YOU HAVE BODY ODOR” and then they get all offended at how “mean” you are. I re-posted her last comment with corrected punctuation and it was like 11 corrections in 3 sentences.
Anyway, one of her fans called me the most arrogant prick in the world for my trouble. If I was insisting that I was awesome at math and someone showed me 11 errors in 3 computations I hope I’d be mature enough to think wow, I better bone up on this, or start double-checking my work, or something; not double down and insist that doing math wrong was “my style.”
Why I get emotionally invested in throwing pearls before swine (metaphorically) I don’t know. I guess I try to think how I would feel in that situation but I guess being open to improvement and taking feedback are skills in professionalism and professional development and we’re not all there. This gal is probably only in her 20s for all I know.
The irony is that in wasting my time with her, I was procrastinating on a paper that I’m in the middle of editing to the tune of $50 an hour. Next time I’ll not work for free for some stranger on the Internet, haha. Just sad that I wasted my time and sad that she is totally deluded about her writing.