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Dealing With Negative Feedback


Remember folks, death is not an option. No, not that "Joe Lieberman or Janet Reno, and death is not an option" game. You can't reach through your monitor and strangle sense into that {censored}{censored}{censored}{censored} individual who doesn't have the good sense to recognize you for the literary genius that you are. Okay, maybe genius is stretching it, but you're a damned good writer, right? Stick with me here. You're a damned good writer, right? Just nod your head and agree with me anyway. I cannot be the only person around here with an overinflated ego and a serious arrogance problem. Statistically, I'm not that special. Okay, so maybe I am.

Feedback is everyone's dream around here. Write me, tell me how much you adored my story so I can carry warm fuzzies around all day. Don't tell anyone, but I print mine up and tape it to my wall. It's heady stuff, that feedback. Until Mr. You suck, don't quit your day job, quit posting your stupid bullshit stories decides he's had enough of kicking puppies and pulling the wings off flies and decides to attack someone really cool. Like pornographic story authors.

It's bad enough to kick a man when he's down, but to burst someone's happy bubble is just atrocious behavior. You know that feeling, you've just gotten done reading some fresh "I loved your story! My wife came 38 times when I read it to her and my cock is harder than it's ever been! You're a great writer!" email and you click next feeling pretty gosh-darned good about yourself. Someone loved your writing, there is no better feeling than that bar orgasm and some really good chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream with... oh yeah, back on track here. Sorry, my bad– what does that mean anyway, my bad? Can you possess an adjective? Where was I? Oh yeah... that wonderful, ego-stroking, positive feedback. You click the next button, feeling that wonderful euphoria and then Mr. You Suck spill his acid tongue all over your parade.

He can't even do it in a redeeming fashion, he just starts throwing around words like, "you're terrible" and "you're the worst writer here" and "you are so stupid!" and "you call that a story? My dog writes better!" and "you suck!" Gawd, I hate that guy. I wish he'd get a life and quit bothering me, he is such a creep.

He doesn't just make you angry, frustrated, and ready to kill, he kind of makes you hurt a little, too. Sometimes being one of those human critters with all those nasty self-doubts and disgusting tendencies to deprecate oneself really sucks. That little grain of "what if he's right?" sneaks on in there and rattles your confidence in yourself and your ability to string words together. Even going back and re-reading your collection of "you are the best!" mail just doesn't seem to help bolster the confidence.

Mr. You Suck! didn't bother to tell you what he found wrong with the story, he didn't explain that perhaps, if you'd consistently spelled ass as arse, he would have loved it. He just attacked you and you not only have no idea why, there's nothing you can do about it. You've probably already noticed this, but Mr. You Suck! is the cowardly type who revels anonymity and you can't write him back and give him a well deserved piece of your mind.

If you're anything like me, you're probably sitting in your chair, glaring at your monitor in muted fury because once you start screaming you'll probably pull something. You want to put your fist through a wall, a monitor, or better yet, Mr. You Suck!'s face. If only they'd managed to develop the ‘Net enough so that you could reach through you monitor and strangle him... Okay, deep breaths.

Why does anonymous hate-mail from an obviously moronic and delusional idiot bother us so much? I mean really, what kind of guy is this? Well, you can pretty much guess that he's not into quality literature, he attacked you, right? He can't spell very well, and his grammar, it's even more reprehensible than his behavior. Has he heard of capitalization? Punctuation? You just got hate mail from someone who probably couldn't pass high school and you're getting worked up about it. I know you do because I do, and everybody wants to be like Muff. You could have just rolled your eyes, you didn't have to laugh in my face. Jeeez.

So, what now oh great Muffinator? What are the answers? What do we do now? How do we solve this whole Mr. You Suck! problem since we can't hunt him down and torture him? It's easier said than done. Really, it is. You ignore him. When you figure out how, let me know. All right, in reality, I do one of two things, I either bitch profusely to some of my online author friends via IM. Nothing like a empathetic ear to make you feel better. Or, I write a nice, long, scathing reply to Mr. You Suck! using all of the icky words and phrases I can think of. It's inspired some of my best writing, though it's not exactly fit for human consumption. The act of writing to him is cathartic that way.

Mr. You Suck! has an agenda. His mission in life is to cause you as much nasty emotion has he can with the limited intellectual resources he has on hand. The simplest way to defeat his agenda is to shrug it off. It's not an easy task, we simply aren't designed to shrug off personal attacks, we were designed to either fight them or run from them, or so my biology teacher tells me.

Anger and frustration are probably nice to him, but hurting you is his primary goal. He is lashing out at you because he's impotent, jealous, or angry. He can't improve himself to equal you, so he must bring you down to his level and the only way to do that is to give you a string of bad votes and to write hate mail.

There is a nasty voice in all of us. It tells us the biggest pack of lies on a regular basis and usually we believe it. I think it's favorite refrain is, "you're not good enough." Mr. You Suck!'s success depends on that voice and that refrain. The hurt comes from the belief that you really aren't good enough and here is someone who is proving it. What is it about us that makes us want to believe the worst about ourselves? We read the best and decide that we're not that good so we must suck. The bald-faced truth is– can you handle it? -- you are a damned good writer. Repeat after me. Write it in permanent marker on your monitor. Tattoo it on your eyelids. "I am a damned good writer."

Despite his mean-spirited aggravation, he's useful, too. Yes, I just said that. I did, quit arguing with me. Mr. You Suck! can be useful. He really can be. He fills up the trash can nicely, doesn't he? He also manages to pop an over-inflated ego. Sometimes we get so full of ourselves and how well received we are by our readers, that we forget that there are readers out there who read the first paragraph and then back click. There are literally thousands of them who will do that on any given day. They don't email you and tell you, "Sorry, man, I read the first sentence or two, but it just didn't interest me. Maybe it's cause they all seem to start out ‘She was a 5'4" 36-24-36 blonde' and I just read that one."

For all the people we're doing it right for, there are probably at least twice as many as we're doing it wrong for. Mr. You Suck! is a rather nasty wake up call to that fact, but there it is. Yes, believe it or not, there are actually people who don't like the way we write, what we write about, or how we tell a story. Maybe– I'll deny I ever admitted to this– there is room for improvement. At least just a little.

He's also a great catalyst. Prove him wrong. Rather than burn energy being angry at him, burn your energy in your writing. Give your characters the full depth, range, gamut, insert adjective of choice here of emotions that you just went through. It shows in your writing.

In the end, it boils down to one very simple thing. Are you going to let that creep accomplish his mission?

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byKillerMuffin© 44 comments/ 80800 views/ 25 favorites
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