Wednesday, December 22, 2010
What to do when readers don't "get you"...
Let's face it: as writers we make our living putting into words what other folks perhaps feel, but don't have the facility or forum to say.
And any writer worth his salt, in so doing, chooses his words with the precision and care of a surgeon. For it is indeed an honor.
Still, no matter how deliberate and diligent we are, sometimes folks fail to get the gist of what we're saying. Or we inadvertently say something that “steps on someone's toes”. It's as if we're speaking a different language.
Whether it's an article, a blog post, a poem, or a commentary piece, sometimes there's a short circuit or disconnect. Because words can carry different meanings for different people, or it could be simply the result of the reader reading more into the “conversation” than originally intended.
Or to put it in the eloquent words of today's teen, “they be straight trippin'!”
So, we must reconcile ourselves to the fact that it can be a work-related hazard. Still it can sting. No matter how long you've been operating.
Take for instance, a humorous piece I wrote for a relationship column, entitled “Why I don't do Dutch!”Most readers responded with words of agreement and verbal “high fives”.
Eureka! They got it!
I was on cloud nine for days. Then I landed with a bit of turbulence, after reading an angry letter from a guy whose words were not only mean and vicious, but possibly could have been grounds for legal action if he had the chutzpah to reveal his real identity!
Then, a few years later, there was the time that a reader became a little miffed when I jokingly referred to husbands as women's “property.” Ouch.
It happens to the best of us. If it happens to you, here are a few things to take into consideration:
1. Realize that it's impossible to please all of the people all the time. Try and you'll disappoint yourself.
2. When appropriate and merited, publicly apologize. Take the high road.
3. Learn the lesson. Are there taboos you should avoid tackling for your particular target audience?
4. Don't let it discourage you. Be true to who you are, and speak your own truths. Those who matter won't mind. And those who mind won't matter.
5. Don't personalize it. Rarely is rejection about you as an individual.
Don't let fear or missed-communications keep you from connecting with others and sharing your joy!
Thoughts? Has this ever happened in your creative career?
Image: Salvatore Vuono