Monday, May 21, 2007

Intent Versus Impact

I sent an email to a friend in which I mentioned that I made this resolution to write every day this year. I explained that I decided to do it on Blogger because it would be a good place to store the work and that this way I would be kept "honest" about doing it if there was even the illusion of an audience. I said that one of my friends keeps in touch with my goings-on by following the blog, because we don't talk that often, and this is why I mentioned it to her, because the friend I wrote to yesterday and I aren't in a lot of touch.

I know that people don't always mean to say what I hear, especially over email. I worked with a guy at Odyssey who talked a lot about "intent vs. impact," saying that when he says something his intention may be different than what the impact is on the person he is talking to. He also said that he isn't responsible for the impact, if his intentions are good (and at Odyssey, we liked to think that all our intentions were good). So when someone says something that hurts my feelings, and it's not obvious that that is what they were trying to do, I examine what's going on inside me that caused the impact to be negative. I think that it's possible that I misunderstood or am having a visceral reaction, not that the intention was to hurt my feelings. Especially when the other person says so upfront.

I received an email back and I don't want to post tonight:

Did you ever write a diary? Ever read them years later? Mine were full of junk, over and over again. Most of us give far too much weight and importance to what we think.

Don't mean to be rude. Maybe you can tell me more about why you think blogs are valuable.

At the moment I feel pretty stupid and I'm feeling pretty crappy about this project.


pj said...

In "The Artists Way" this person would be described as a kind of censor or someone who tries to criticize you in a negative way to get your attention, take up your time, or maybe draw attention away from the fact that they feel lousy about their own ability to be creative.

The way to protect yourself from these art swine is to not throw your pearls at them.

As a person who is trying on public writing, protect yourself and share your blog with people who are kind and supportive. This person is not kind or supportive about your writing, rather a swine in a china shop, to mix metaphors. Badly.

Another thing I read in TAW was the difference between constructive criticism and destructive. Constructive criticism, though it may sting a bit, has an element of "Aha - I see what you mean!" to it, where as destructive criticism can make you feel bad, guilty, deflated...

Your friend may not even be reading your blog. If they are, then this response is really harsh.

If not, then you might look to your internal censor to see what kind of mean thing she may be saying to you about your writing.

I love your blog. I think your writing is well done and insightful.

In a way, this question your friend writes may be a good exercise! I often think about why I choose to blog...there are so many reasons it's cool.

I think one response for your friend may be that in Bloglandia, writing is quite a bit different than a gut spilling diary entry.

Your friend clearly doesn't recognize the courage it takes to share one's thoughts with a sizable portion of the population of the world.

And in the words of my dear friend Bettie while she was dying - Just pick yourself up and dust yourself off. Your doing fine.

Bink said...

I know I'm lousy at keeping in touch but I do read your blog! I think it's a very cool project, and I'm sorry your friend has a low opinion of "diary"- type writing. Your blog is really interesting to read, and I really respect the monumental effort it takes to write something meaningful every day. I hope you can keep it up when you're working full time because I would really miss it if it weren't there.