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September 23, 2012
Posted at 8:27 pm
Updated: September 23, 2012 - 8:33 pm

Idle Thoughts From A Rank Amateur

Education. Over 25 years ago, my grade for Freshman Comp -- 3.8 -- was posted. I never again took a formal writing course. I was in school to be a nurse, not a journalist. Now, a quarter of a century later, at my spouse's behest, I'm enjoying the new hobby of writing erotica. From what some tell me, I do a decent enough job. I'm not sure what that says either about me or about the value of college writing courses. I suspect it doesn't say much about either.

Audiences and Naivete. Naivete can be a good thing. It keeps kids believing in Santa Claus, the basic decency of people, and the fairness of life. But it can also set one up for disappointment. I first started posting my stories on a site which seemed a safe bet, given the theme/plot of my offering. I somehow convinced myself that the other contributors and much of the audience were female and gay or bisexual. It took a while to figure it out, but the scales were lifted from my eyes. Not only were most of the contributors, pen names notwithstanding, men, but so were even more of the audience. Even harder to swallow, the readers were nothing more than a slightly literate version of the guy who surfs video porn sites, whacking off as he does. So much for my pretensions.

Manners. I think the thing that shocked me the most when I started posting stories was the apparent truth that the more educated and self-important a commentator is, the more they need a lesson in the manners a 5 year old grasps with ease. Apparently posting a story on a site means we've shed an expectation that people ought to be civilized when communicating with us. I wasn't prepared for established "authors" to send me email comments without even the most cursory introduction, raking me over the coals for a misplaced comma, or a poor word choice, or for having the audacity to offend their tender literary sensibilities by my presence. Rake me over the coals, by all means, but please do it politely. Does it cause physical pain to at least be courteous? Basic rule of thumb: If you wouldn't walk up to a stranger on a city sidewalk and say it, then don't say it in an email. That's cowardly. And I would say that to your face if it were the case. Politely.