It is the nature of the artist to mind excessively what is said about him. Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others. --Virginia Woolf
The advent of blogging has upended the private nature of writing. A couple of minutes spent perusing the e-world provides a tonnage of people who reveal slices of life, vignettes of surpassing intrigue, some that actually surprise the writer in me. Of course, there are the "vomit pages" -- the ones where someone, without thought or intention or purpose, vomits out every (in)coherent thought floating within his primordial swamp. But the point is the same: this brave new world has created an audience for every wallflower, prima donna, or aspiring writer out there.
It has also spawned a whole new generation of readers, kind and otherwise, who see the comment button as a personal calling. I've always fancied the comment button as a verification of sorts: by commenting, I am acknowledging this person's point or turn of phrase or delightful tale. Since the writer in me pleads for acknowledgement in my own writing, I should in turn point out the best in others. I also see the comment button as a way to engage in dialogue, to discuss the finer points of writing, to disagree or expand or tweak a thought.
For the most part, as I linger among the posts of fellow-writers, I am touched and impressed by the kinds of comments left for the blogger. Certainly, the commenters of this blog have been full of warmth, compassion, and kindness. The dissenting voices have always added a flavor or depth to the conversation that was previously missing, and it has always been done in good taste. It surprises me then, when -- in reading through the many blogs I comb through each day -- I find that one comment or observation that seems mean-spirited or perplexing. I have to wonder: has this commenter never read Virginia Woolf?
So, as writers, are we evolving a tougher skin as we spend time posting our thoughts for a broader audience? Or do we still "mind beyond reason" and nurse those bruises privately?