Thursday, November 23, 2006

The problem with blogging

One of the big problems with blogging is that most of your fellow bloggers are so nice. Don't deny it. You know who you are. Okay, there's a couple of you I'll exempt from that description, but you're the exception that proves the rule.

It's a problem because your collective niceness makes it hard to get critically objective feedback when you want it. After all, if you read this blog for a while you begin to believe that you know me, hell, some of you even think of me as a friend. Don't try and deny it - I've got e-mails to prove it. And no-one likes to hurt a friend, do they. Okay, JTA, apart from you. (It's a joke, JTA, don't get upset. See, you've got me doing it now. Niceness is catching. Dammit.)

It's worse than that though. Because of this virtual friendship, this sort of cosy little world of like-minded people that we've constructed, this extended family barricaded against the horrors of the nuclear age, it would be a crime almost akin to incest to turn on one of our own.

Okay, deny it, as I know you will. But at least ensure that your critical faculties haven't in any way been blunted before you accede to my request. If anything, go the other way. Just don't kill me with kindness.

Here's my problem. I'm at work on my next novel. I'm about a quarter of the way through and I'm at that point familiar to all writers where I'm wondering if the whole thing isn't a big mistake. I need you to tell me whether it is or not. I may not listen to you - I probably won't - but I would like to hear your thoughts, which may at least signpost me on my way.

The book is called Mummy's Boy and it's really about me and my mother and my attempts to get free of her malign influence as I grow up. So it's a sort of family saga. I haven't got anywhere near the end yet but already I know that it's not going to have a happy ending - you never get free of your parents' influence do you? They fuck you up...and all that. Besides, it wouldn't be me if it had a happy ending.

I've posted a few chapters already on the blog. The titles are mostly in the form of a month and a year. I'll post another chapter up tomorrow which I think illustrates rather well why I'm having second thoughts.

I really would appreciate your feedback before I waste any more of my time. Or yours, for that matter.


  1. Daddy4:15 pm


    I've read some of the chapters you've posted. And since I don't blog anymore, I won't be nice. You're stuff is great, wonderful, scintillating, etc. It really is. I read five or six books a week, and I know what I like. I like your writing.

    The title, Mummy's Boy, is distinct and catchy.

    Finally, it is my experience that most authors begin doubting their efforts at some point, usually two or three times during the course of the work, if not more. Example: e.e. cummings had constant self-doubts about his verse. Which I find difficult to fathom, because he was so very, very talented.

    Perspective is the issue. We always doubt ourselves. Perhaps that was infused in you by your Mummy? It's a fear versus love thing, I believe.

    So please, don't stop. Keep writing Mummy's Boy.

  2. There's definitely an art to being nice while still being a good critic, but they don't have to be mutually exclusive.

    It's not about what a person says, but how they say it. How many times have you gotten the message you needed to hear couched in such negative terms that it was the last advice you wanted to follow?

    So don't think that you won't get useful feedback. But do be clear what you're looking for. You've got nothing to lose. And if it doesn't work out, there's always the online crit groups and such.

  3. Anonymous11:56 pm

    Well I could say that I think your writing is bollocks Pundy, if it would make you feel better.....but then that would be lying now wouldn't it...........

    My honest, constructive criticism in this instance, for what it's worth, is stop pissing about and carry on writing, cos it's all good so far!

  4. Anonymous8:55 am

    I can be nice, you know I can, but I also lie like a snake.
    Send me some chapters - I'll tear them to shreds and destroy any aspirations you have in the writing department! How's that?

    Love from your bestest friend Minx

  5. Pundy, your post here makes me wonder -- I read your review of Skint's book which you posted the other day, and thought at the time, "that wasn't very nice".
    Were you saying to us all "I'm not really nice you know" in anticipation of the post you have just written above?

    Apologies if this comment is too personal -- you can always delete it ;-)

  6. Hi Maxine

    Hm, that's an interesting Comment. As far as my review of Skint's book went I tried to be as objective as possible. I thought he had written a great book but that it was flawed. Most good books are, even great ones (which is why The Great Gatsby is so good. It's a monor masterpiece but it's almost unique in being virtually flawless).

    Uncritical admiration won't help Skint - he knows that and I know that. We're both writers trying to help each other.

    "I'm not really nice..." Hm, again. I don't think it's relevant if I'm nice or not as far as the review went. Probably I'm not. I dunno. I'm just trying to get by as best I can. None of us are perfect, are we?

  7. "None of us are perfect, are we?"

    Well Bill then you never saw Catherine Deneuve in her heyday.

  8. Well, I thought Bill's review of The Three Bears was very good. I'd have bought it after that if I didn't already have a copy. ;)

  9. I'm so weak from lack of food that I screwed up the link on my previous comment

  10. Tell you what, Mummy's Boy, or whatever you call yourself, you mind your Daddy, right? Daddy is the proverbial horse's veritable mouth. Anyone who can cite eec's midnight turmoils obviously knows his spinach from his broccoli and is clearly a man who merits a good, close listen.

    Me? I've just returned from NYC, where I've been toughening up the old hide and getting the eyeballs rebeadiated, so I feel ready to call an entrenching tool a spade at the drop of an apostrophe. Fair warning.

    Your friend,

    Eustace Finnyfeather, PS, FOB, RSVP, QED

    Pee Ess: That Minx? Better credit that one, too. If ever you feel the need for some truly soul-destroying, ego-annihilating crit, she's your agony aunt. Just send pages, and Bob's your old gay uncle.

  11. I was just wondering if that review of Skint's book broke that "nicness of bloggers" rule. I felt it did.
    I was trying to get towards a discussion of how one can be objective about reviwing or commenting on work by others in the "niceness of bloggers" circle -- which of course those of us who don't write cannot join.
    How do bloggers make the leap from banding together and supporting each other's creative efforts, to reviewing each other's work? Is it possible?

  12. Not with me, Maxine.
    When I was being nice, I was also being honest.
    So I shall stay the way I am.

  13. Well, now. I think I may have been guilty of underestimating the intelligence of my readers on this one. You know what you like - and, equally, you know what you don't like and are prepared to say so.

    Objectivity is all in criticism and I guess bloggers here get as close to that ideal as anyone else.

    Starving Artist - you're a big-hearted guy, which is probably why you're such a good writer.

  14. Hey, Sand Storm, not only did I see Catherine Deneuve but I also had a big thing for Brigitte Bardot.