Friday, 17 October 2008

The me-me meme

Often, though not always, I get my wife to read my postings before I upload them. Our offices are next to each other in the house. I email them to her. She emails back. Such is the modern work-home balance. Such is modern marriage.

My email wasn’t working properly when she sent her response to my last posting. So we had a face-to-face conversation, before breakfast. Such, too, is the modern work-home balance.

She: You know I always really like your blog.* But . . .** I wondered if that posting doesn’t come across a bit self-concerned.

Me: I know what you mean.*** But I’m torn. Some people tell me they like my blog best when it’s personal. Others that they’re more interested in it when it reaches out into the world.

She: That posting, though. Isn’t it a bit too much like those columns in the paper where someone writes about their own life, self-obsessively. It’s all so me-me-me.

Me: But those are the columns you read. I don’t. But you do.

She: Mmmmm.

And so to breakfast.

* A note for anyone ever having a conversation with any writer about their writing. Begin any and every conversation with something like this. Even if it’s a complete lie. Particularly if it’s a complete lie. If you don’t first tell them they’re wonderful, they won’t hear anything you say after that. Particularly if you’re about to tell them it’s rubbish.

If it is rubbish, tell them it needs a little work. Then start on your list of suggested changes. No matter how extensive the list, the writer will still be basking in the glow of that initial praise. Think of it as tickling a dog’s tummy. It works. Every time. I’ve written and I’ve edited. As an editor, I learned all about writers’ vanities. Mine included, of course.

** There’s always a ‘but’ after a sentence which begins ‘You know I always really . . .’

*** Defence is the last resort of offence.

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