Tea Time With Jesse

Six of One, Half Dozen the Other

I Get Comments – Part 1

Posted by middlerage on August 21, 2012

Does better writing lead to fewer comments?

One good thing about having a blog is that all this writing improves one’s writing. Or at least I hope so. I think my biggest change has been weeding out unnecessary verbiage. Smoother, leaner prose. I’ve cut out a lot of the qualifications and self-deprecation. Where I used to say:

I’m no cook, and of all the things I’d love to learn how to do, pie crust is numero uno. My mom tried to teach me once, but I totally jacked it up, even under her supervision, so now I just enjoy that which is wrought by others. If I make pie, I buy a frozen crust from the super market, all the time wishing I had the tools and the big table to roll out a buttery, flakey piece of heart-stopping, cholesterol packed yumminess.

Now I say:

I like pie. Blueberry especially.

My expectation is for my readers to appreciate the smooth reading of the latter, but understand the qualifications of the former still apply. However, it seemed to me that as my writing became “better” I got fewer comments. Like my readers were afraid to challenge me. Maybe writing with lots of ums, errs, and maybes is more inviting to conversation.

The jury is still out, but I have been pleased with the fired up threads on a couple of posts, recently. I am tickled with the conversations on A Fair Question, and Business as Human Rights Diplomats. I miss my rougher, less practised writing style – it is more personal, and more me. If I don’t sling the usual amount of qualifications, my readers should still know that I in no way think I’m the pope, or my word is worth anything.

I wonder if writing and singing are similar – you have a voice, but it sucks; then you train and sound musical and precise, but like everyone else; finally you return to your voice, throwing in phrasing and trills that are uniquely you. I think I’m in the middle stage.


5 Responses to “I Get Comments – Part 1”

  1. Annie said

    The fewer words you use, the fewer the ways you might resonate with a particular reader. In the first example, it might inspire all sorts of memories of other people making pie crust when they were younger, or recommendations of frozen brands, or how hard it is to get that kinda stuff Exactly Like Mom Did. The second example? I mean, other than “I’m more partial to pecan” you aren’t going to get much. The storytelling and the personal touch are what makes writing like this worth reading.

    If this were a different sort of blog, I might throw in a caveat of “not too long though because people get bored and stop reading”. But your followers tend to be more thoughtful and polysyllabic than your average internetter, who usually has the attention span of a kitten.

    But hell, all I write these days are technical reports, and it is embarrassing how much I copy and paste from other reports I’ve written. And there isn’t an ounce of soul in the whole 20 pages.

  2. middlerage said

    mmmm…pecan. Pecan is the finest of the flavors.
    I wouldn’t worry about the tech reports. If you are accurate the first time, then cutnpaste carries that over.
    I’ve been working on long winded because I don’t like it when I run into it on other blogs. But to be honest, I do prefer what I wrote first, to the second example of ‘i like pie.’ 🙂

  3. Mark Leisher said

    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    It’s a long, long process for some of us. After 25 years of off-and-on practice, I manage two or three sentences a year worth keeping.

    Some readers respond well to rich, tumbling prose, heavily infused with the writer’s sensations and experiences, but I believe the paring process creates openings for your readers to insert their own, making the read a very resonant and personal thing.

    • middlerage said

      Who was the sculptor who said, “I just carve away everything that isn’t _____”?

      • Mark Leisher said

        “I choose a block of marble and chop off what I don’t need.” — Alexander Pope

        But that isn’t the one you’re thinking of. It might be a generalization of the Michelangelo quote: “I simply remove everything that isn’t David.” It’s been said in many different ways by many creatives over the years.

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