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'Round The Next Bend - SEBASTIAN MARSHALL
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Lessons Learned from the Firestorm of Controversy

Two days ago I wrote the Genius and Tragedy post. It was extremely controversial - very popular on one hand, but got some very strong visceral negative reactions. I'd like to share with you what I've learned about writing, so I can step my game up and improve. Also, I got some downright hateful comments made about me, some really bad and terrible stuff. If this has never happened to you, maybe you don't know what it feels like, and I've got some advice on how to deal with it. I also did some detailed reading and analysis of the kinds of comments I got, and there was some fascinating results that I'll share.

So, first and foremost, I made a mistake - If you're writing to help someone, it can be pretty presumptuous to do it without touching base and clearing it with them first. I made that error for a few reasons - first, two of my best posts have come from the same format, and both achieved their desired objective. ("How do I write so much, you ask?" and "I think greatness is something you do, not something you are" both publicly called people I like out - and both times it worked) - so that's the first thing, I'd had a good track record with this, however those were people I'd been touching base with already.

Second, as a general principal I believe in working really quickly. I analogize it to "fighting out of formation" - quick, lightly edited writing is always worse than well-edited best practices. But, the more you do of it, the better you get at it. And by producing anything really quickly, you get better faster. If someone produces 10 times as much content, how long until their lightly edited work is superior to the other person's highly polished work? This isn't a rhetorical question - check out "Quantity Always Trumps Quality" on codinghorror.com sometime. If you produce quickly and of lower quality at first, you can iterate and improve, and eventually your quick production work is better than the obsessively refined person's work who isn't getting as much done (and thus not learning the lessons). Pablo Picasso talked about this quite a bit, if you're particularly interested on the topic.

The downside, of course, is that you make mistakes. And I did - I should've touched base before writing that post, or had it vetted, or at least, spent more time editing it to be clear, concise, and unambiguous, and even more polite. Mea culpa - my mistake! It's okay for me to work quickly and bring errors upon myself because of it, but I need to be more careful when involving others.

Then, why is that post still up? This is what I wrote as the episode was winding down, it was well-received by the community -

Beady Blue Eyes

On AMBER EYES AND OTHERS

My whole life I dreamed of the glamour of high school. I recall flipping through my older sister’s yearbook, pointing to the homecoming queen, and saying, “I am going to be just like her.” I can assure you that prophesy never came to pass. For the first few years of high school, I kept to myself, intimidated by others’ friendships that had existed before they could say each other’s names. I was a new girl in ninth grade, and even going on into my junior year, I still hadn’t found my niche. My dreams of being crowned homecoming royalty were completely shot down when I realized I would never get asked to a dance or go on any sort of date that I, myself, wasn’t paying for.

Here’s the kicker: I never thought I was unattractive or weird. Of course, I had my quirks like everyone else, but for the most part, I believed my ugliness remained in the past and, as the entirety of junior high seemed to be, just a bad dream.

I had just gone over the hump of my senior year in high school when I met him. He was in my clothing class, and his face wasn’t a new one to me. I had seen him since I moved there in ninth grade. He hung around the people I was never friends with, and he went to parties I was never invited to. Still, he never caught my eye, and he continued to never catch my eye as we gabbed while he made ridiculously hideous pajama pants. Although he was of an average height, he seemed lurpy. His blonde hair fell like a short curtain over his forehead, and he flipped it out of his eyes about every two minutes. Beady, blue eyes peeked from underneath his blonde drapery, and even though they were small, they were somewhat pretty.

We became friends.

Somehow we got entangled in a dare. Driving down the frontage road in our friend’s car, we stood up so we were out of the sunroof from the chest up, and we kissed. It was just a joke, and I never thought it was anything more. The next time, the encouragement for a kiss came from a stranger. Beady Blue Eyes and I sat on the top of a picnic pavilion in the middle of the night. Someone drove by and chanted for us to lock lips. I never thought Beady Blue Eyes had the guts, but before I knew it, his hand was on the back of my neck, and we kissed a kiss that lasted no more than two seconds. This was a joke too, I thought. We were no more than awkward friends that had been tricked into kissing two times now, and that’s that.

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