Posted by Tania Kindersley.
I know I’ve got the perspective police and my admiration for the stoic and my good, phlegmatic British blood. I know that I am not supposed to wail, because you all have your own wails to be going on with. I know that this is a public space and therefore I should expect slings and arrows; I know that my skin is stupidly thin and I should butch up. I know that I’m a bit over-tired just now, hazy with fret, and prone to taking things too much to heart.
But I had a comment yesterday which I am finding stupidly hard to deal with. It wasn’t horrid, really, or mean. There was, in fact a very nice compliment in it. My God, when I look at what people on newspapers have to put up with, it was milk and honey. Yet bash bash bash it went, into my fragile heart.
Anonymous wrote: ‘There are times when I find your blog maddening, but today your words are jewels of sensitivity and good judgment.’
You see? That’s very nice, in the second part. Really, really kind. But why did there have to be the maddening bit? What purpose does it achieve? May I just wave a magic wand and not be maddening? Is that what is expected?
This blog is free. I do it because I love it. No one forces anyone to read it. If someone asked you to tea, would you say: ‘Oh, these cucumber sandwiches are disgusting, but I really love the ham and cheese?’ Of course you would not. You might think the cucumber is revolting, but manners will stop you saying so. If you visit someone’s house, would you remark on the idiot mistake of choosing carmine red for the downstairs study, whilst congratulating them on the lovely sage green of the kitchen? No, you would not. You would damn well bite your tongue about the carmine, because it’s done, and it’s their choice, and to say so would only cause unnecessary hurt.
You would not march up to someone in the street and tell them that their hat was horrible or their hair a mess. There are things we do not do.
I fully accept that, as one reader remarked not long ago, I can be boring, although I try very hard to avoid dullness; I am sure I can be maddening, as I have now been told. But these observations are, apart from being disobliging, without utility. I write as best as I can, often after a long day. There are sometimes editing errors or non-sequiturs, moments of monomania, occasions when there is not much life in my prose, however hard I try. The readers’ wonderful liberal choice is not to read. They may come back on a better day, because everyone has off days.
Besides the lack of utility, the lack of specificity is not helpful. Maddening how? Maddening why? (Actually, please don’t tell me; it will only make me sadder.)
I really love this blog, and I love the variety of the readers and that they come from all over the world. I don’t expect to be told that I am fascinating or brilliant. The compliments, when they arrive, are always like getting a present, and make me feel humble. But I am not robust enough at the moment for what my mother calls personal remarks. Read, don’t read; find a writer who does not madden.
I try not to give in to weakness. I can usually talk myself down off the ceiling, count the blessings, take my iron tonic, shrug it off. But I’m a bit battered and tired now, so I’m buggering off for a bit. I’ll be back when the book is finished, I have had some sleep, and my armour is back on.
Oh, and PS. Last time I admitted to hurt, the Dear Readers were very kind and rallied, but I had the uncomfortable sense that the volume of comment felt a tiny bit like ganging up, although I know that was not at all how it was meant. This is, above all, a polite space. Don’t abuse Anonymous; they have the right to write exactly what they will. I have the right to take it or not take it. Just now, my very personal choice is: not.