March 31, 2008 at 6:11 pm | Posted in writing | 60 Comments
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Are you guilty of schmoozing by comment? Why yes I am. I am not qualified to criticise and I believe that the best way to help someone to improve their writing is by highlighting the good you see in it and offering encouragement and support. If I see something that looks to me like it could be improved I say nothing because if I offer a suggestion and it is accepted and the work changed, to me, that raises questions of authorship but more importantly doesn’t teach the helpee anything because it does not speak to the connection between that general rule of craft and the particular effect in the readers mind. Never ever mention linebreaks and feel free to tell me I am full of shit. The only way to teach writing is by writing as best you can. And this is very easy and fundamental, if it doesn’t swing to some beat it’s real hard to read. The major motive force in craft is leading the readers mind, like the eye follows the words, behind which skips a thought in strange fancy clothes, bells and makeup,
the rhythm is not in the words, it is under them, the words bob around on the rhythm and like a country musician learns just behind the beat is lazy and relaxed and in front of it hurries, verbs are transposable, tone is in their position in the clause, talons,
my hatred of critics, of genre, of stuffy old grammar grannies, of all the postfacto analysis and name creating, postpostneoclassicism, knows no bounds, the only reason writing exists is to be read, being readable is the only rule,


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  1. I got in first yay!!! I beat Jo,I’m the top stalker *sticks tongue out*9not sure if thats such a great thing to be, really)

    Paul I agree with everything you so wonderfully, poetically, intellegintly, vividly,succintly,compassionatly, scientiffically, magically, wonderfully said. Am I smoozing too much?

  2. laughing, yes, I was too busy wondering if I’m being schmoozed on a daily basis to comment……but seeing as someone not too far away, the funny guy you’ve got your binoculars trained on, has had strictest instructions never to comment on my stuff unless he likes it then I bloody hope not.

    Seriously, being readable is the only rule and readable is different things to different people. Adequate post. Oh, go on then, great post.

  3. yeehaw~ i’m in second smooze spot!
    i agree 100% and not just because i’m sucking up in your comments.
    different writers bring different experiences – just as different readers take different things away from a written piece and it’s all good if as you say – it’s readable.
    ~big morning kiss~

  4. do you ever feel like a backing band around here 🙂

  5. Hey Jo, all us chicks could be the backing band…and we could wear those cute little corsets, fishnets, feather tails and can-can shoes…ooops I think I,ve been hanging out a the prinsess palace too much. LOL

  6. ^^LOL!^^
    I see i missed numero 2 spot. ~giggling~
    Okay, E-sistah – ready to do a little can-can number for Paul?

    Errr…. someone break out a smelling salt for him, ‘kay?

  7. laughing my ass off, I love corsets, and high-heeled shoes, I think he might need a defib machine, not smelling salts 🙂

  8. dumbstruck, for once, by the vision and the beautiful music, i am transported,

  9. oh paul would be alright, I’m sure there a lot of life left in him.
    I can make the outfits, we could be called the Gingatao dancers.

  10. oh yes, I am sure there is

    this is really making me laugh.

  11. transported?–beam me up scotty

  12. Egads, Paul rendered mute !!!!!
    We could post it on U-Tube, and Paul could get a percentage of the profits….and maybe if we were really good we could also play at Vegas?

  13. I once wrote a poem called “poet’s pay” cencerning gratuitous commenting. From most of us, I am sure, there will be little to no monitary reward for that which we present on our blogs or forums or wherever. Our pay is in the commentary. In just knowing someone has read what we have written and are at least taken enough to present a kind word. I have seen sites where people ask for ctitique and I feel as you do. I haven’t the training nor the practice to do a proper job at it. And we all know how touchy poets can be. Beyond that, to what ends would the critique be? Hell, it has been a long time since I have even read a poet lauriet that I thought was even poetry much less likeable poetry.
    If ever I present something to someones writing that could even be in the slightest way considered a critique it is because I am reasonably sure that that person has a good sense fo humor and I jab in jest.
    I don’t know, but all this smacks of Voodoo

  14. Isnt Scotty the one that said “I canna hold er any longerrr Captain?”
    i,ll just gather my tails and fox stoles and go to bed now, and stop hogging pauls comments.

  15. ahha, that was fun, only post the work to read the comments really, chaos makes me smile, yayaya, see you all tomorrow,

  16. Feel better now?

  17. So what do you want me say?!

  18. dancers all gone home?
    ~sigh~ no one to dance for. no one to dance with.
    ~trailing my boa behind me as i sashay back to work~

  19. sssssh, Ozy, don’t say the v word…..and I agree re commenting, there’s no point in writing out indepth analyses unless the person asks for them 😉 if you like it say, if you don’t go away.

    Sorry Lakota, the heels were killing me 🙂

  20. I think blogs are not the right forum for in depth critique of poetry because blog comments are too bald, too cold and too easily misinterpreted or taken offence at.

    So all those nice intelligent comments on my blog, Paul? You’re just schmoozing after all?

  21. errrr… what’s wrong with the V-word?
    (i kinda maybe have a need to know to avoid making ass of self…)
    the heels always suck Jo, but it helps us hit the high notes while doing a song and dance. ~wink~

  22. oh I meant Voodoo (I had a bit of a run in with him is all), that v word. Oh yes, heels are great for high notes 😉

  23. Yes, thanks Bob much better. Guatami, I want you to say whatever you feel. And Juliet, I have never needed to schmooze your poems, there has always been plenty in them to compliment, as for the trio, see the top of the page, you crazy crew, you have made me laugh and laugh, thankyou,

  24. Heh. wahoo! my name in lights… sorta… okay not really but still… wahooo! Glad we could make you laugh GingaPaul. Wait until you see us dance. Then you’ll laugh.

    Sorry to hear that Jo, thanks for letting me know though.

  25. No probs. Oh wow, hilarious…….now what shall we shake our booties to first?

  26. ” Oh, we are the girls of chorus, we hope you like our show…we know your rooting for us…but now its time to goooooo”… Plagarised from the opening credits in Bugs Bunny.

  27. well said, I have learned a thing or two from your perspectives and as a reader of yours I can tell you that your writing always keeps my eye on your words:)

    …boy, I used your, yours and you a lot in that sentence.

  28. and i don’t much care for artspeak, either.

  29. but i do love the red tights.

  30. oh no, caught by someone from my other life (blushing wildly)………great song enigma.

  31. not me you’re referring to, i hope. i’m just passing through, going flower to flower to flower…

  32. Paul, glad you find so much to admire in my poetry! I just had a thought about the other side of the critics discussion, there is such a general air of niceness in most poetry blogs that there is almost a risk of people thinking their poetry is better than it is. The occasional piece of honest, thoughtful respectful critique might do a lot of us some good, if we avoid the knee jerk reaction against it, notwithstanding what I said earlier about blog comments not being the best place to offer critique

  33. That’s true Juliet. I see it sometimes around and think well maybe this person could improve their writing if someone said something but who is going to take on that job? Not me, that’s for sure, I get into enough trouble already. Maybe I should write something sensible and crafted and clever today, hmmm, nahhh, that was too much fun,

  34. No one said my poetry was good, but i didnt expect anyone to, i’m no poet LOL

  35. keep changing the title, it keeps us on our toes.

  36. yes it was, Rick, GRIN.

    Don’t people tend to underestimate rather than overestimate how good they are……? That’s why it’s so important to read lots of stuff, it helps you gauge yourself, unless you’re a hopeless narcissist.

  37. Oh, we are the girls of chorus,
    we hope you like our show…
    we know your rooting for us…
    but now its time to goooooo”

    So long marianne, its time that we began,
    the sisters of mercy they are not departed nor gone,
    Your poem Enigma is deeply reminscent of the Master American Poet, Leonard Cohen,

  38. i love leaonard cohen…and the so long mariene song is highly significant to me, my autistic brother used to play it over and over again…

  39. you make me cry sometimes paul, not a bad thing:)

  40. Leonard Cohen, isn’t he doing a world tour just now? Oh yes and I’ve got tickets!

    Perhaps people do underestimate themselves Jo, but if someone posts mediocre poetry to a blog and attracts lots of readers by networking a lot and these readers all start to say wonderfully complementary things then the writer may start to believe that s/he is really an expert, specially if the only other poetry s/he reads is other mediocre poetry. Its easy to get complacent….

  41. Seems fair enough to me.

  42. Yes, it is easy to get complacent but where does the fault lie in the hypothetical case you keep mentioning? With the commenters surely, for they are not being honest……

  43. Well, I think we can all agree that the number of comments a piece gets is no measure of its quality (just take this one for example, ahaha) and also that people are always gonna be nice to others in their blogs, I hope. Also that many good writers are quiet, introspective sorts who don’t social network, just look at my blogroll for many instances. But there is no right or wrong way of going about commenting and so forth, the only real purpose of blogging that I can see, is not to measure how ‘good’ a writer you are but to create and participate in a like minded community, oh, and to have fun! Let’s not take it too seriously. People know whose opinions on their work they trust and if you are any kind of writer at all you can tell the difference between a Paul schmooze and an Enigma gift,

  44. I think i,m in love with you paul xxx

  45. Personally I like negative comments (but not abusive comments). At first I steam, but then I grow even more determined.

    But I agree, it is impossible to give good advice, since what must be improved in a writer is that which is fundamentally personal and individual — and how can someone else help with that? This is why I do not like MFA degrees and writers’ workshops.

    In the end, all one can say is “you are there” or “you are not yet there”.

    Concerning you Paul, you know my favorites. with “eponymous ‘pystemology of tigger” and “sunonhead” are are most definitely there!

  46. Leaving breadcrumbs back to my place… gingapaul… where are you???
    I’ve got a surprise for yoo-uuuuuu.

  47. What a great party/conversation this was, I think maybe cos the piece was mostly about rhythm it set everyone to dancing, cool. Peter, the Sunonhead poems are all gone from the blog cos I am trying to put them in magazines and they are in the manuscript I’m shopping around too. Not The Pinter is going to appear in Decanto magazine in Feb ’09. Now for the scary bit, a Lakota surprise, uhoh,

  48. Not wanting to drag this out, I like your last comment Paul, that sums it up nicely.

    As for the ‘hypothetical case’ Jo, its made up of several blogs I came across when I started blogging. I’m not going to name names though that would be rude

  49. Yes, I saw that and it is amazingly fabulously hilarious, though I should try smiling more GRIN. Oh that should say cases, Juliet, I hate that you can’t edit comments…… drives me nuts, though I see some wordpress blogs have managed to include the option. Oh well, like we just concluded elsewhere, we’re pretty much in agreement 🙂

  50. ~Lifting my skirts and dancing around in circles!~
    Peeps can see it on Enigma’s blog too – that way they donnae have to enter the X-rated backroom at my place. ~wink~

  51. smooches to you too and hugs ((((((((Lakota))))))
    Its Jo’s Birthday!!!!!!!!!!! happy birthday JO!!!!! Champagne corks popping, streamers falling from the ceiling, Surprise party, yayayayayayayayay,

  52. Happy Birthday Jo!
    I LURV surprise parties.
    Everybody line up for can-can linedancing in Jo’s honor. heh.

  53. I love a party!!!! I wish all you guys were in the one place..we would have so much fun, lakota and I could compete on who was the most hyper.
    And jo could recite poetry,and make us laugh, and paul, you could sit back, have a cigar, and look enigmatic.And we could of course perv on you and Ozzy.

  54. oh thank you everybody, I’ve got two parties going on……..I’ll bring the champagne over? Canapes (we English do it in style you know 🙂 And lets all dance lots n lots n lots, I love dancing it makes me think I’m not 40bloodyone.

  55. Hey Paul, good luck with your manuscript. I would love to take a look at it if that is possible. And if you can direct me to the magazines that will carry your pieces I might want to acquire a copy.

  56. Thanks, Peter. Don’t worry, I’ll be putting great big announcements in here when they come out with links and exclamation marks!!!! (I am the loudest writer I know yayayayaya)

  57. as my own worse critic, i really needed to read this…

  58. I agree with your post about criticism. Especially because it’s a public forum. I think most people post their work because they’re excited about sharing their creations. At least that’s why I post poems and stories. It’s fun!

    I don’t mind though, if someone is confused about something I write, and asks for clarification. One woman told me a certain line in my poem was like a poke in the eye. I thought that was mean.

    If we can’t find the good in someone’s work, how can we identify what is “bad?” What have you to say about that? Or is this post too old, the conversation now over?

  59. Hello,

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