Yeah, so my grammar has fallen to lolcats status, if only because of my recent obsession with kittehs.
FINE. I've always been obsessed with those tiny, adorable little furballs, but lately there have been too many around for my own good. Like here:
Yeah. It's tough living in a dorm when everywhere you go there are cats.
But cats, strangely enough, have nothing to do with this blog. Really. This post is about compliments.
Story time: I dated a guy in freshman year who helped me realize one of my biggest pet peeves. It wasn't a favor, and I wasn't amused, because he was the one committing this unforgivable sin. He gave me false compliments.
I HATE false compliments. As I complained to him that my fiction had been ripped apart (two weeks after we met, no less), he said, "they obviously don't know how great of a writer you are."
Alright, let's get something straight. I'm not an evil bitch, and I'm aware that he was probably trying to be nice. But he'd never read any of my stuff, and the comment just sounded false. I come from the singing world (alright, I was in choir through freshman year of college), and people are just loaded with fake compliments. You could cringe through an entire song and still smile. "That was good," you'd say, crossing your fingers behind your back.
But in singing, as well as writing, honesty is the best policy. Granted, it's nice to believe you're on the top of the world when you're just starting out, and most parents out there know they've lied about their kid's __ (insert annoying and underdeveloped hobby here), but once you're in the big leagues, once you take your craft seriously, you know more than anyone how annoying a false compliment can be.
Natalie Whipple posted about an issue on the other side of this coin. Sometimes (a lot of the time) writers just become wary of compliments all together. They doubt the validity of any compliment, no matter how sincere it may be.
So how do we solve this problem for writers and their well meaning friends everywhere? I think it needs to be worked on from both sides. Friends, listen to Doctor Seuss: Say what you mean and mean what you say. It's tempting to tell a white lie sometimes, and maybe you think that a small compliment couldn't hurt, even if it's not true. You might be right. Of course, you might be like the friends of those terrible singers who audition for American Idol.
As for the writers? We need to realize that not every compliment is false. Sure, take that compliment with a grain of salt. But ignoring genuine compliments in the writing business is almost as harmful as an inflated ego.
Balance, grasshoppers. Balance.