I wish people would stop telling me to quit judging until I’ve walked a mile in someone’s shoes. I’ve already walked a ton of miles in a whole bunch of different shoes and I’ve got the fucking blisters to prove it.
Especially when it comes to writing. I’ve been a practitioner long enough at least to understand how difficult it is staying true to the fundamentals. I’ve written at last count, three quarters of a million words (okay a lot them crap but at least I’ve written them) and I’ve certainly been a writer long enough to understand how painful a life style it really is.
Look, I’m no NYT best seller. In fact, my first three books haven’t made enough combined revenue to make a car payment. But that’s not the fucking point.
The point is I’ve written enough to know what good writing is. Okay, so I’m not the greatest writer in the world. So what if I’ve written a hundred articles on Medium and never had a single one curated?
Big fucking deal.
As a writer I know when something I read is amazing. I know when someone’s crafted a hell of a piece. In fact, I’m more than willing to read what a writer is laying down if it resonates. Even though it might not resonate with me on a personal basis, I love it when a body of work peals louder than the Liberty Bell. If it strikes me emotionally; if it makes me laugh my ass off or cry like a baby, or if it tears my fucking heart out with anguish then…
…that’s what the claps are for.
I’m judging the writing.
It’s what the hell a writer wants me to do. They want me to read what they write and judge for myself whether they’ve written something which impacts me, and how big the impact is.
They publish with the intent to be judged.
Judged by their peers, by readers (a lot of whom are they’re peers) and by the whole fucking world. They’re not asking us to judge their personal life and how they live it. Although some readers will anyway. Those that do are just a bunch of assholes.
We all try to ignore them as best we can.
A writer’s personal life is none of our fucking business unless they decide to make it our business with a piece they write. Even if they do choose to get bloody in the trenches, we should be judging their story, not them.
But a whole lot of us take critique (especially bad critique) on our writing personally. How could we not? Our bodies of work happen to be our children. We take exception when someone bashes them or puts them down. But it all breaks down to this.
The end game for all of us is to have what we write read and enjoyed. It’s not like we’re breaking our necks to be awarded the next Nobel Peace Prize.
Hell, I don’t know, maybe some of us are, but that’s a completely different can of worms. If that’s your justification for writing then I say, whatever floats your boat or melts your butter.
Rock on with your bad self.
I suppose it certainly helps if we’ve already walked a mile in the writer’s shoes. We’re certainly going to understand where they’re coming from a lot faster and easier because we’ve been there ourselves. But we don’t always have to walk that mile if they write something from their heart and speak honestly about an issue.
Remember, each time a writer publishes they’re asking the reader to judge. Every story they write, each poem they craft, all of those personal pieces of their souls they choose to reveal, they are expecting us to judge their work.
And if we still don’t get it, then as a writer they have every right to expect we readers to spend more time with them, come along for that mile long walk before we judge.
Writer’s have the right to expect the reader to read what they’ve written and as a reader we have the right to not accompany them on their journey.
That’s how this writer/reader thing works right?
Don’t get me wrong here. I’m always willing to go that extra mile with a writer. None of us write astonishing wonder pieces every single day. If I just don’t get what you’re trying to tell me then maybe I’ll walk along in your shoes for a couple of miles. Maybe then I’ll understand where you’re coming from.
Then again, maybe I’ll judge what you’ve written because I’ve already been there, done that.
But if we have to walk, we have to walk.
Don’t worry, I’ve got plenty of band aids for the blisters.