Recently I read four contrasting pieces of writing. A blog, a poem and two short stories. Three of the four had one thing in common – the message and comment were negative. And not in a good way. I mean, if you were waiting for some test results and wanted more than anything for those results to be negative, then that’s negative in a positive way, right? But just to be negative without finding a positive – or indeed even looking for a positive – doesn’t help anyone and can isolate your readers.
Let me elaborate. Item one, the poem. Written by an elderly gent who had a subtle rant about how awful the world had become and how dreadful that all the fields (one, probably) were being turned over to build houses. His poem was not just irritating but self-indulgent and – if I may invent another word for the sake of this blog – Blamey. Everyone else was responsible, in his mind, for his childhood haunts of field and copse being built upon. All I can say in response, really, is that this particular gent, who is father of two, both offspring having bred and created 7 more people between them who need somewhere to live, should, as a young man, have kept his trousers on. Would his poem have been so damning of the growth of humankind if someone pointed out to him that he was part of that growth? I think he was rather proud of his poem, read with much anger and negativity. Or may be it was fear I could see pencilled between the lines. Item two; short story. A strange story the seeds of which were sown during a brief conversation in a library. Too much time, the writer considered, was spent making the local library look like a children’s play centre with too many silly books. ‘The Penguin’s Poo’ and ‘My Sister Smells’ were two publications that caught this particular writer’s eye, and boy did she object. A condescending tirade on why children aren’t taught to read Alice Through The Looking Glass or How The Leopard Got It’s Spots these days highlights the ghastly state of contemporary parenting. Clearly this author didn’t have a dyslexic or vision-impaired child in her family, for whom reading Alice and her looking glass would have been an impossible mountain to climb, let alone go through. Penguin’s Poo however was full of colour and verve, was boundary-free and expressive. Just the thing to hook a child into the wonderful world of books and keep them there into adulthood. This author’s short story was no more than a negative comment on parenting seen through her own narrow lens and not a story anyone would want to share.
Item three. The blog. Oh dear, where to start. Put it this way, if you’re a blogger – whether full time, part time or once in a while time, please make it something people want to read! Humorous. Informative. Cheeky. Helpful. But not Negative. That doesn’t help anyone and neither does it achieve anything. Concerned about the habitat of the nine-legged ground-dwelling Purple Spider? Raise awareness, encourage the saving of the habitat by getting your readers on-board. Shouting at people from the page will just make some of them think Good. Too many spiders in the world anyway.
Item four. The other short story. What an inspiring breath of fresh air. May be it’s an age thing, because this short story was a short sharp message from a young man who had been bullied terribly at school and developed bulimia because of it. He found the only way to express himself, to give free rein to all his fears and worries and uncertainties was to write. He explained that he’d written a diary during his teenage years, cataloguing the abuse and bullying he endured, the solace and self-loathing he found in food, and the release he found in self-induced vomiting. The vortex he found himself being dragged further and further into having been pushed there by others was terrifying. But the light-bulb moment, the instant he found something deep inside himself to cling on to and pull himself away from that destructive behaviour was inspiring. His story over-flowed with positivity and not once did he accuse his abusers of anything. He just told it like it was. He was 19 when he wrote this short story and read it in public for the first time when he was 22. He put the other three authors to shame. He was young enough to be grandson to each of them and despite his terrible ordeal threaded positivity through his story. I could think of a few old dogs in serious need of learning some new tricks.
We can all write whatever we want (democracy is good for some things, right?) but if it’s just a negative rant about the good old days, please, keep it to yourself. Try spreading the love instead.