My girlfriend told me once that sometimes she has trouble following my writing. That’s not a criticism you want to hear from someone close to you.
I guess, at times – very rarely – but maybe sometimes, I use too many commas and – because I like the effect – too many long dashes.
What does she know? Obviously, she just has trouble understanding quality writing (I’ll hear about that one later).
All jokes aside – I’m sure it’s hard to read this with those tears in your eyes from the knee-slapping laughers you are getting – that is something that would have set me off a few years ago into a paper-throwing tirade.
But at some point you grow up. Although I can’t earmark the exact moment that I would have stopped taking a criticism like this one by throwing my office phone against the wall, it happened somewhat recently.
Admittedly, I did smack the phone receiver down pretty hard not all that long ago. I promise I don’t have an anger problem. My psychiatrist will confirm that for you.
Now I just fight the urge to not feel anything and bring some emotion into my thinking. I catch my share of criticisms – I’m not caring enough, I’m not a good editor, I’m arrogant, I’m out of my league … okay enough of that talk before I reach for a hammer and lose my cool. But in all of that it’s hard not to grow a cement skin. But that can become too thick. It’s a tough balance, I’ve found.
Skin too thick and you don’t get any messages. After all, everyone needs improvement. Skin too thin and you find yourself drinking too much alcohol and crying to movies on lifetime.
That’s what I heard, anyway.
Back on point in my tough-to-follow memoirs, I hear criticisms loud and clear. And when my girlfriend says something to that end, it checks the maturity level of a person real fast. So I went back and browsed the history of my recent writings and honestly, she is probably right (I’ll hear about that later, too). This column aside, as I intentionally throw things into a mess, I see room for improvement.
Of course, I always see room for improvement. I’m not a master. And contrary to popular believe, I’m not arrogant enough to think so.
With enough criticism on the constructive side, though, maybe I will be someday.
-Josh Peterson is the editor of the Manchester Times. He has won Tennessee Press Association awards for writing and photography. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 931-728-7577 ext. 105. Follow him on Twitter @joshpeterson29