Complimentary Comments For Writers: The Making of a Village
My thanks go out to Bruce Noll, otherwise known as Born2Care2001 on HubPages, who had this idea and invited me to collaborate with him on this topic. I have known Bruce for quite a few months now, and he is one of those people that I instantly gravitate towards during my life. He and I have travelled a similar path, and we have learned some similar lessons, and I respect him greatly for fighting the good fight and rebuilding his life.
Bruce approached me and suggested that we both work on hubs having to do with complimentary comments, and how they are important for writers. I encourage you to read his article, “Complimentary Comments: A Hubbers View of Comments.” What follows, then, are my thoughts on that topic.
MY BRIEF STORY
I joined the writers’ site HubPages on January 6, 2012, and in all honesty I was one scared puppy. I had never joined an online writers’ site and had no idea what to expect. In fact, my partner for life, Bev, practically had to threaten me to get me to do it. Why was I so reluctant? Simply because I had no confidence in my writing ability!
Writing had been a dream of mine for many decades, and of course I secretly wrote short stories and dabbled in it during my spare time, but it was all kept in safe-keeping, away from the eyes of anyone who might judge it. Like many writers, I suspect, I was frightened to let anyone else see my work lest they judge it inferior and thus crush my dreams.
Bev, of course, believed strongly in my abilities, but you expect a loved one to believe in you and say good things about your writing. It is another kettle of fish, however, when we are talking about complete strangers, and that is what I was afraid of. How badly would the HP gang reject me? Would they be gentle or would they body-slam me to the ground in unmerciful fashion? Worst yet, would they just ignore me and say nothing?
FINDING THE COURAGE
Despite my misgivings I set about writing that first article, and then posting it. The title was “How To Stage Your Home,” and it was met by a collective yawn by the HP community. One brave soul, Deborah-Diane, commented on it:
“Staging is such an important part of selling a home. Many people do not realize that buyers have trouble imagining what a house could look like, unless the seller goes to the trouble to create the right setting.”
As I write this I am laughing! To all of you reading this, that comment may not seem like much, but to me, just tiptoeing into the frightening waters of online writing, it was like manna from the gods. That one comment, from a wonderful woman I have grown to know over the past nine months, was enough encouragement to push me to my next article
That next article, “Leaving The Rat Race Behind,” received this comment from Nina64:
“it seems as if we Americans are conditioned to go to school to get a good education, get a good paying job, have a home with the white picket fence. All these things are taught to us from early childhood to adulthood. In gaining all these things, we end up in debt, lots of unnecessary things that we do not need, and just being plain unhappy. I'm so glad that you have found the simpler way to living a happy life. Great hub!!!!!! :)”
WOW! Someone had said I did a great job, and gave me a smiley face! The comments slowly increased on that hub, and I started entertaining thoughts that maybe I did belong on that site. Three days later I wrote “A Letter To My Birth Mother Who I Never Knew,” and it has gone on to received 393 comments and won a Hubbie Award as the Most Beautiful Hub of 2012.
So, what’s the point?
HERE IS THE POINT AND IT IS AN IMPORTANT ONE
Well, the point is certainly not to tell you how great I am, because I still harbor self-doubt from time to time. I receive glowing comments from other writers and I still look in the mirror and wonder if they really mean what they say, or are they just being nice. I can’t speak for you, but I think many writers have a bit of a self-image problem, and lack confidence.
The point, my friends, is that if it were not for Deborah-Diane and Nina64, I may well have quit after two hubs, and all that has happened since would not have happened at all. I was hanging by a thread, filled with angst, and the life-lines that those two writers threw me were enough to keep me writing. If you don’t think I am thankful for those two people then you don’t know me at all.
Looking at it from a different angle, there was a new writer I was following a couple months ago; she had written several “evergreen” articles, but decided she was going to try writing a personal article about her life and who she was as a person. She spent several days doing so, and then posted the article, and then sat and waited for the positive feedback she desperately needed…..and it never came! By the time I had found her article, and read it, she had posted a message that she didn’t see the point in writing if nobody was going to read her work, and so she left HubPages.
I am still saddened today over her departure. I could have been the one leaving back in January if it were not for complimentary comments from two kind human beings who took the time to give me support.
Feel Like A Poll?
Have You Found Support On HubPages?
THE MAKING OF A VILLAGE
So here I am today, 22,000 comments and nine months later, and I’m here to tell you that complimentary comments do make a difference. Sites like HubPages are communities of writers and as such should be a safe harbor for writers to practice their craft and receive POSITIVE feedback. Imagine the power of just one positive comment; you may be the one who leaves that one comment that makes the difference between someone continuing as a writer or quitting. How very cool is that?
True, not all the articles that I read are good, but that’s not the point. My job is to encourage, to bolster, to be the shoulder to lean on, and in so doing become the much-needed cheerleader that a writer needs. My job is not to belittle or to criticize; many writers receive more than enough of that in their daily lives. They certainly don’t need it on a site such as this, where they are practicing their craft in hopes that someone will hear them.
Be that voice that uplifts! Be that voice that encourages! Be that one voice that just might propel a writer to great things!
I have received 22,000 comments in nine months and ten were negative. TEN! That, my friends, is a supportive village, and that is why I am writing today!
A Village of Writers
WHAT A VILLAGE LOOKS LIKE
As of this morning I have been viewed by people in all fifty states and in 123 nations around the world. To me, that is an amazing thing….no, it is astounding! Remember, nine months ago I was ready to quit at the first sign of a negative comment. 123 NATIONS! I don’t do well in Sudan, but I’m working on it. J
Soon I will have been viewed 100,000 times, and I have received ten negative comments.
I’ll tell you what that all says to me.
Writing spans all cultures, but more importantly, writing communicates to all cultures. As I write about my life, my feelings, my worries and my challenges, I am essentially writing for all people, because we all share commonalities. Forget about the differences and concentrate on the fact that we are all, in many ways, the same.
What does a village look like? It looks like me, and you, and you….it looks like a cowboy in Wyoming and a sheep herder in Nepal. It looks like a socialite in New York and a seamstress in Wales. I have been exposed to them all, and there are more still to come, and it is all because of that first complimentary comment.
And so I say thank you! Thank you Tammy and Cyndi, Eddy and Paula. They were there early, and often, and encouraged me every step of the way. I say thank you to Lisa and Tara, Bruce and Linda, because they were there early as well, and often, and encouraged me to keep writing.
And of course I say thank you to Bev, my greatest supporter!
Do you get it? Do you understand? This isn’t about one writer; this is about a community of writers who are supporting each other. This is not a competition; this is not about every man and woman for themselves. This is a community of writers who are supporting each other.
This is a community of writers who are supporting each other.
And it begins with a complimentary comment!
2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)