About a month ago I went to a message board and started a topic. The board belongs to a novel and short story site where one can add their work for critique. It’s also a great place to learn the craft of editing.
I rarely reply or start a topic. Not that I don’t want to, it’s simply a matter of time. Not enough hours in the day as they say. But in this particular moment I saw something missing.
A simple little thing that I felt needed to be filled.
Walking the tightrope of etiquette
My topic was all about giving thanks to others. A simple thank you when others critique your work. And another thank you if they felt your critique helped theirs.
I’m big on acknowledging a person’s good work or act of kindness and I’m not alone on this. For the most part we all think the same. Don’t believe the news you hear on the state of the world. People are generally kind and helpful.
Yes, I’m talking to you.
I didn’t think too much when I created the post. We’re all at fault for expecting things and sometimes we need to take a step back and realize how good we have it.
By the end of the day my topic hit the twelve page mark with each page containing at least a dozen replies. The results you might be thinking were positive, sadly they were not.
Sorry I drowned your puppy
After reading just a few replies one would have thought I had called their mother wicked names or worse…an offering to drown their puppy.
Most of them accused me of stepping over the line. To them I had walked into something far more personal than needed to be. After a few replies defending myself I stepped away. I’m pretty sure my days of creating topics on that board are over.
One of the first lessons I learned in our world of writing is proper etiquette. A simple thanks or a like on a page goes a long way.
We have chosen a profession where reputation matters. Going an extra mile or two does wonders for us all.
I’m a friendly person by nature. I was taught to give everyone a chance and to be nice. Not everyone appreciates the kindness but most do.
Creating a positive reputation is gold. The last thing I want is for anyone to think of me as high maintenance or demanding.
I have received a handful of rejections from agents and publishers in my days and I have replied to all of them with a thank you. I am not thanking them for turning my work away, I am thinking them for their time.
It’s the professional thing to do.
I’m not sure why I upset so many people. Maybe it was the guilt in them coming out. Whatever it was we need to pack the negative remarks in a box and open up a can of the good stuff. It’s all about the long term. Every now and then ask yourself a question:
What kind of reputation do you want?