We all want feedback on a post that we worked hard on. We love it when you share something we’ve written (you want to share it more than once?…please go ahead!) and we could cyber hug you when you comment on our social media pages etc. Running a blog is time-consuming and labour-intensive for oh so many reasons that I won’t bore you with (but you can bet any blogger reading this is nodding their head hard in agreement).
Basically, it is a very rare writer who only wants to be read by themselves and their Aunt Pam (or Parminder in my case, hey hey) before their painstakingly crafted words disappear into an abyss.
So when those words evoke a tidal wave of good will, kind wishes and raw emotion from people who totally get what you’re saying, it is truly gratifying and makes it all worth it. But when your words are misinterpreted and attract mean unpleasant remarks and aggressive behaviour (even if it’s only from the minority), it’s very disappointing. Nobody likes being misunderstood or attacked (even if only by the minority).
Well, if I ever realised the power of the written word, it was during what I will forever refer to as THAT week, when all that (and more) happened. I started off THAT week making many people cry after I wrote about my marriage. I managed to end it causing controversy with something I wrote about my adopted country, Malta.
Yep. Go me. And I could not have predicted any of it!
Basically, I came up with The Anniversary Card I Never Thought I’d Write because one of my blogging besties asked me to write a relationship piece, with no warning (when he had ample opportunity to give me more time and no he WON’T be getting a Christmas gift…men!). I was a total stress ball trying to write it because I hate working under pressure and didn’t like the way it was coming out (blah blah) because I didn’t feel it was flowing right (blah blah) and the angle wasn’t right (triple blah). I even messaged him at one point (okay…maybe more than once) moaning about how I was just coming off looking like an ungrateful complaining princess who had no idea how good she had it. Blah blaaaah.
I know. I get it. It’s not like I was aiming for the Pulitzer Prize or anything but I’m a wordy girl and dang it, how much do I hate it when the words just feel wrong? A lot. That’s how much.
On top of that, I cancelled my yoga class plans (#FirstWorldProblems), ignored mounting laundry and neglected my kids to write it, thinking it was being published on his site, only to nearly die of mortification when I realised this deeply personal ‘badly written’ piece was going on my site. (I told you…men…they don’t communicate properly and they give you daft deadlines!) On top of it all, I dropped a plank of wood on my foot trying to unearth our box of wedding albums to find an appropriate picture that I could then format, photoshop etc with just minutes to go before the deadline (and has that man asked me how my foot is? As if…
Nobody called me a moaning Minnie. Nobody lectured me on how good I had it. Nobody judged me. Nobody saw me as husband bashing (thank Heavens).
Quite the opposite…
– I received messages from strangers thanking me for helping them feel less alone in their marriage and saying they cried from start to finish.
– I noticed women on various facebook forums saying they saw their own marriage crystallized before them in words.
– People told me they read the post/emailed it to their partners and it prompted them having a talk about their own future.
– Comments poured in to my website wishing me well and literally everyone related. Go figure!
– My husband read it, said
Ouch…but it’s factual, well written, gutsy and honest…well done babe”
and shared it!! I swear, if the tables were turned, I’m not sure that would have been my response. I fell in love with him a bit more for that. (And yes, he only saw it after it was published.)
– My mum read it…and cried… I felt so bad.
– Bloggers shared it on their social media pages saying they had read it several times.
– Words such as ‘brave’, ‘powerful’ and ‘honest’ flew about with amazing regularity.
You get the picture.To be honest, I wasn’t trying be anything (apart from on time with my blog post). In short, there was an outpouring of emotion (sometimes from ‘surprise quarters’ such as a relative I’d not heard from in years messaging me to applaud me and so on). And as I said, I didn’t expect any of it. A good (heck a downright amazing) side of blogging. a series run by Moderndadpages and Lifewithbabykicks. Now, I have lived in Malta for close to ten years. After talking about the good points of living in Malta on many occasions, I felt it was time to write a piece on the less positive aspects of the country called Dear Malta You’re Breaking My Heart.
I took pains to point out that there is no perfect country in the world and said we’ve never regretted our decision to leave the UK. The article was in no way an attempt to attack Malta or to tell its people what to do from some ‘self-appointed position of expat superiority’ or to claim that my birth country is any better. It was merely a lament on the increasing lack of common courtesy and positive societal values I’m witnessing here. It is because I love Malta that I care enough to write about her, which thankfully was in fact recognised by many local people.
I started writing at 2am, finished at 5am by the time I’d sourced images etc, got four hours’ sleep, got up to link it to the blog series and pop it on my Facebook page/personal wall too (cursing myself because of course I thought of several other points I should have mentioned). Then I went back to bed for a couple of hours.
When I woke up and looked at my Facebook page and site: Oh my word. (Or should that be Oh my words… I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.)
From what I could see, people were mainly agreeing with me left, right and centre but heated debates were breaking out across social media forums and lengthy conversations were taking place on people’s personal walls.
Several friends messaged me to say “Lady, you’re brave”. That word again…I was a bit mystified and wondered what I had done to be called brave.
I can’t possibly repeat on here all the comments from people echoing my sentiment, some of them who have just arrived in Malta, some who have lived here for years, some who left as a result of similar experiences and many of them Maltese born permanent nationals themselves. You can read the comments under the post of course. Suffice to say, I was taken aback at how many chimed in with stories of their own not exactly positive experiences here.
Many Maltese people thanked me for ‘speaking out’ saying that they feel the same frustrations, hoped the negative treatment had not put me off staying and apologised on behalf of their compatriots. Someone made a point about how the people who declare their patriotism the loudest often do nothing to look after the country they are so proud of and harm its reputation instead. Someone else said: empty vessels make the most noise. Great phrase!
Later that day a friend messaged to tell me she’d noticed the post had been shared to a ‘certain community page’. At the risk of incurring any further wrath, I’ll just leave it at that. She said “Get ready Honey”. Hmmmm…what does that mean? I thought. Go fix my hair? Put on a nice dress? Then she said “Shit’s gonna hit the fan”. Ah righto, forget the dress. Full body armour then.
Another blogger noticed a well known online magazine in Malta issued a counter article the same day to balance all those “nasty and bad things we [Maltese] do”. Quelle coincidence…
By now, it was 10pm Friday night and frankly after several late nights on the blog, I needed down time. I switched off the computer and some time later went to bed.
I woke up the next day to a surreal situation.
Now, hand on heart, I still genuinely believe that I was measured and on the ‘calmer’ side of emotional throughout the post. Even though I wrote it for a ‘rant’ series, in truth, I hardly ‘ranted’ and was in fact restrained leaving out quite a few negative points (something that many readers also noticed). Had it been an angry rant, I would not have used ‘breaking my heart’ in the title. I could/would have used something like ‘pissing me off’.
Alas, there were those who somehow missed the point and went on the attack, making such awful narrow-minded comments that they validated my very article with every word they wrote. (This was not lost on others who congratulated the bigots for making my point for me!)
The negative barrage included (amongst other things):
– being harangued on Twitter by someone calling me a bully because I hadn’t published his comments (when I’d simply not seen them yet). It was plain strange how many people didn’t realise I have a house/family to tend to and have to step away from my computer to do that.
– being criticised for authorising peoples’ comments which were seen as attacking Malta (so I should censor?) but then accused of not authorising comments which were attacking me (wait, so I shouldn’t censor?).
I actually authorised every single comment, in the interests of freedom of speech, even when those comments were hostile and mannerless towards me.
– being berated by someone for not publishing their comment and then berated even more once I did publish it and then getting a ‘bonus’ torrent of sarcasm and spite about my mental health, debating skills, strength of character, other blog posts etc! Priceless. The pity was that some of the points this person made about Malta were valid but it was useless even trying to reply to someone who was ill-mannered and clearly hellbent on just picking a fight over e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g including the name of my website!
– being lectured on “my country’s” colonisation of various countries (the irony of which was not lost on me as my country of birth colonised my country of origin so nope, I don’t run around waving a flag about what a great job Britain did there).
– being given a ‘lesson’ on various topics that were totally irrelevant to my post, including Sharia Law (it was like writing about the health risks of junk food only for someone to go off about Mercedes engine part prices).
– being told the experiences I had mentioned are rare occurrences (have these people had a camera following me around the last ten years?).
– being at the receiving end of the gold-standard finger pointing at other countries’ problems (as if that negates the need to do anything about the problems right here).
– and of course, receiving the classic “if you don’t like it leave”, as if this is the cure-all for a country’s problems rather than maturely appreciating there is room for improvement and that it is not shameful to admit this. The comical thing is that several Maltese people said they’ve also been told to go home leaving them wondering where they are meant to go as they thought they were already home!
To date the overwhelming majority of people who have read the post understood my overall intention. Many readers stressed that just because there ARE many good sides to living in Malta, that does not mean the island’s people should be opposed to an improvement of the bad sides and go on the attack when they’re are mentioned.
Most heartwarming of all, 90% of my new followers over the next week were Maltese people. What an encouraging sign! I’m not the UN. I’m just a one woman blog but that is still a sign, however small, that many nationals do recognise what needs to change and don’t behave like petulant children when a non-Maltese person highlights these aspects.
Now, I never expected so many people to publicly identify with what I was saying and actually come to my defense in front of those who clearly did not.
I never expected friends and bloggers to check in to see how I was weathering the storm.
I definitely did not expect so many private messages and so much good will from rational well meaning people saying they felt embarrassed by my treatment at the hands of certain others.
I didn’t think strangers would find me on Twitter to tell me I had done the right thing.
We’re all driven by different things. Some of us are blessed to find something we enjoy doing or at least find something we’re not bad at, whatever that may be! I love putting words together and seeing them turn into something.
I simply wrote two posts from the heart (instead of overthinking them to death which is my usual modus operandi). I never meant to make anyone cry with the first one and I definitely did not set out to offend anyone with the second. I don’t write to annoy people but it is bound to happen at some point and frankly if I spent my entire time worrying to bits about how people might react, I’d never publish a single post.
It’s quite simple really. If you relate to / laugh at / cry over / feel inspired or entertained by something I’ve written, I’m beyond delighted because it means I’m doing something right. THAT’S what lights the fire in my belly. And to be honest, even if I don’t want my words to offend or annoy people, as others bloggers have said, it still means the words aren’t disappearing into that abyss!
Every writer wants that whether they’ve just got a blog they’re growing or they write for a major publication or they are a big time hot shot author.
Thank you for being part of the dialogue, for reading, sharing and commenting because that is what encourages me to keep going. I’m grateful beyond measure for all of it.
Yes even to the trolls!
Aw, this was an extremely nice post. Finding the time and actual effort to make a very good article… but what can I say… I hesitate a whole lot and never manage to get anything done.
What an interesting read this was! You voice so many of my own thoughts about blogging. You can never second guess what posts are going to hit a nerve and which ones are going to die a quiet death. This is part of what I find so fascinating about the whole blogging lark. It’s so good to hear your thoughts on all this. Alison x
Keeps us on our toes right?!
Off to go and fund the other posts – I’m intrigued… thanks for linking up #snotallaboutyou
It sounds like you have kicked up quite a storm. I’m so please to see you have written something that has caused a reaction and got people thinking, and perhaps given some a voice. That’s what it’s all about isn’t it?
Wow!!!!! I have not experienced this yet, I don’t think our blog reaches far enough at the moment. You handled it well 🙂 I bet your stats were off the scale hope you had some google ads on there somewhere haha! #snotallaboutyou
I’m always surprised by how personal people will take the words of strangers. Sounds like you dealt with the trolls perfectly, and at least they’ve gave you page clicks, hurrah!
lol hurrah for page clicks!
I loved that first post about your marriage. It was so heartfelt and that’s the thing. People are just so different and there are always going to be the ones who love and identify with what you write and others who don’t. Then there are the knobs who just want a fight! Well done you and thanks for sharing with #bestandworst See you soon xx
Lol thank goodness for the knobs. They make it interesting too. Thank you.
I think your post is a great positive reflection on what sounds like a terrible experience. Well done for being brave and weathering the storm continuing to write from the heart. #wineandboobs
This is a great post! I love my country (USA) but I know my country needs A LOT of improvement! Good for you for talking about it. I agree with you that loving your country doesn’t mean you can’t recognize when something isn’t right and needs to change. That saying, “If you don’t like it here, then leave” I thought we Americans were the only ones who said that to people. It’s kind of comforting that we aren’t. I hear it all the time though and I admit, I’ve even said it myself a few times. You have a new follower. I love your bluntness! Thanks for sharing on #effitfriday
Thanks Michelle. You’re on my list too!
Hey, I found you via #effitfriday. I find it a bit scary that people can completely misinterpret your words. The tone of our writing is really in the eye of the beholder!
Hi Julie. Yes I learned it most certainly is!!
So far, I’ve been pretty cookie cutter clean with my posts and haven’t strayed too far into the controversial topic areas but I have a couple in the hopper that might cross a few lines. This was a great post to get a sense of what I might be in for if I do decide to publish. Well written and insightful as usual. #bestandworst
Awww thank you Rob.
Fabulous Prabs – it’s amazing how throwing something out there can create such a huge response! Your Malta piece really stirred up emotions which got so many people talking. I enjoyed that & your letter to your husband. Writing from the heart is brave – well done x #snotallaboutyou
Heheee. I read, and thoroughly enjoyed both of these posts. You are clearly doing something right because I want to read more. Keeping writing brave, honest, fire in your belly posts and I will keep reading. Loads of love Pen xxx
Oh no the pressure! Lol. Thanks so much.
I can only dream of writing a post that evokes such reaction and international conversation, yet I also see the potential pitfalls of this.
I recently asked myself “Who am I actually blogging for?”, questioning whether I should be censoring myself or writing what I think others want to read. My friend simply commented;
“Dance like nobody is watching, write like nobody is reading”.
I am now sticking with that.
I couldn’t agree more.
I think this may be the third or fourth time that I have read this piece and every time I feel empowered and encouraged, not just by the topic, but by the writing. Your honesty and humour fill me with fist pumping excitement.
Keep doing what you’re doing, it’s working.
And comments like these make it all worth it. Wow! Thank you.
Back again from #bestandworst 🙂
I am off to read those posts. Clearly I have been living under a rock the last couple of weeks! I love that you blog from your heart, i have started to do that recently and It feels good!
Thank you. Well normally I hide behind sarcasm and humour lol.
I remember reading the Malta post, and remembering some of the comments I’m not surprised it went viral. 90% of your new followers being Maltese is pretty awesome, so while a small minority might be hostile it’s clear the majority aren’t. It looks like yu’ve handled the whole situation fantastically well, so well done to you. #wineandboobs
Thanks Alison 🙂
How dare you have an opinion about something and share it on your site that you clearly force people to visit! Seriously, some people just look for a reason to cause arguments – maybe they are having a bad day, maybe they have issues (and yes, I toned that part down!) but whatever the reason, often the people who are “outraged” share your post only for the people they share it with to love it! Don’t let the keyboard warriors get you down. #myfavouritepost
Ha ha genius comment. Thanks so much.
Well, I just had to go and read your other posts! Both brilliant. Sadly I see myself more than my husband in the Anniversary one, I need to think about that. And as for the Malta one, a very reasoned post, which having skimmed through the comments, a lot of people seemed to get. Sadly, some people just never will, and as others have said, trolls show their true colours as soon as they comment. Lovely to have found your blog x #thetruthabout
Thanks so much Sara!
Wow. Great response. I need to go back and read the articles and the comments! What a lot to go through in a week. Well done you for dealing with it brilliantly x #wineandboobs
Thanks Lucy! I hope you like the others.
Wow – this is a post and a half Prabs! I haven’t read your Malta post but your post about your husband and the reaction it got – so telling of how hard it is to maintain a relationship for years and after kids too. As for the trolls – sounds like a complete knee jerk reaction to what was probably completely constructive criticism. Such a shame the internet attracts such idiots. Thanks so much for linking up to #thetruthabout Xx
Im off to find the other posts and put them on my reading list, but before I do I love the way this post is written and your style. Everyone keeps telling me to find my blogging voice – you have definitely found yours and I love it. If others don’t agree they don’t need to read it do they? 🙂 xx #BabyBrainMonday
Thank you so much. That’s lovely of you.
I’m just reading your blog for the first time now and you’ve got me totally intrigued! I’m going to have to go and check out those other posts now. I’m quite guarded on my blog – honest but not raw if that makes sense? And I’ve always thought that more openness would get me more readers but I just don’t want to open myself up to everyone like that. I always think real, true honesty in blogs is brave. Sounds like you are and that you have seen both the good and bad sides of it. Glad that you’ve had so many positive reactions. #thetruthabout
Thank you Maddy. It’s risky indeed.
I enjoyed reading this, sumarizes the good the bad and the ugly and beauty of blogging. Quite curious about the other posts, will read those too!
lol do go read them!
Great post! I read both of the above mention posts and I’m not surprised you got so much praise. They were both incredibly honest. I am, though, amazed at the negativity you received because of your Malta post. But hey, that’s people and social media for you, I guess.. Keep up the good work! x #wineandboobs
Thank you so much my dear.
Hey, regardless of whether people were angry or not, they were reading! I read both posts and thought they were both good. I love how odd people are – to me, the most emotive of the subjects there is the relationship, not the country. I am not a remotely nationalistic person & I have always found it odd that people get so wound up over defending the honour of a place! Not remotely surprised that actually people got worked up over the country, not the relationship, but I do think people are strange! Anyway, well done on your up & down, but certainly successful week! #wineandboobs
That’s a very good point. Exactly! The post I thought I’d get slated had the warmer reaction!
Great response! I loved both your posts. I’m not at all surprised by the reaction to the anniversary card because I know a LOT of married people feel the same. I’m glad so many people supported you with the Malta post — it was clearly sincere and very well-reasoned. The trolls who resort to xenophobic or racist arguments show their true colours, so I hope you ignore their nastiness and keep on with the good stuff! You rock Prabs!! #myfavouritepost
Thanks SO much. Flattery will get you everywhere.
Oh you’ve definitely got my curiosity going now – off to find the other posts! #MyFavouritePost
Ha ha. Let me know what you think!
Brilliant post! Blogging is partly about saying the stuff that needs to be said – otherwise what’s the point? It’s all so much puff. Unfortunately, there are always people who don’t want to hear it. Well done for coping with a troll-fest in style!
Thanks so much! Troll fest. Love it.
Always love that about your posts – you speak your mind without any ill feeling but we’re all like marmite – you either love us or you hate us!! I know I’m going to probably face some backlash one day – and I’ll be running to you for advice/reassraunce/shelter! Carry on doing what you’re doing girlfriend, I relate to a lot of your posts and take comfort in them often! Thanks for linking up to #babybrainmonday x
One day I shall take all these comments and frame them! Thank you so much.
Firstly, well done on a hugely successful week, and secondly well done for not letting the trolls get to you. I think it’s impossible to please everyone especially those who don’t have a sense of humour! I had a comment this week that my blog was sexist because it’s always written from a mums point of view and not a dads. When I become a Dad I will write it from a Dad’s point of view! #myfavouritepost
Thank you. I have to admit the whole mums being sexist/excluding dads thing is starting to grate. Women spent years trying to make a place for themselves in a man’s world. Now that there are so many parenting blogs, the majority of them run by women, the shoe’s is on the other foot and suddenly there’s a fuss about inequality. Oh the bitter irony.
Thanks for the fab comment as always.
I read your posts last week and loved them. I have to confess to being very nervous about recieving criticism about something I have written. It hasnt happened yet, but im sure it will. #MyFavoritePost
Hi Tracey yes many bloggers have said that. Ironically, for someone who is a natural worrier I was actually bizarrely relatively calm throughout the whole thing. I think it’s called “Shock” 🙂 Thanks for reading.
Wow, what a time you’ve been having! I read both posts and loved them both. They were incredibly honest and well-written. You’ve handled it all so well. Hx #BabyBrainMonday
Ah thanks so much!
You are so right! I’m relatively new to this writing lark and if I can inspire people to comment because they want to (not just because they should because they found you on a linky – and they clearly didn’t read the damn thing in the first place) then I’d take the good, the bad and the WTF too, just as you’ve done so graciously #babybrainmonday
Awww thanks my dear. Look at me! Gracious huh? Who knew! Seriously, thank you so much for reading.
I thought your Malta post was really well written and respectful however I was REALLY surprised to see some of the really horrible and quite frankly random comments you got!I’m off to read the other one,I’m intrigued x #BabyBrainMonday
Unfortunately anything will offend someone out there. You handled it well definitely, and it is too bad people were attacking you before you even had a chance to wake up. Writing from the heart is how others can connect to you and how you make an impression so keep at it!
True true. And thank you, that last bit is lovely.
Wow! very wonderful post that involves a roller coaster of emotions… I have to say, you’re such a brave blogger! I’ll definitely be following your blogs from now on…. #BabyBrainMonday
Oh shucks…stop IT I’m blushing 🙂
I think it’s brilliant that you can be so open in your posts. I have written some very open posts about anxiety and depression recently and got a wonderful response. As for the haters, I’ve not personally had any yet, but I guess in the back of my mind I should be prepared.
By the way, my dad was born in Sliema.
Keep up the good work. Great post and a wonderful blog. 🙂
Ha ha Sliema, now way?! And thanks so much for the fab feedback.
I’m so glad to see how we’ll you’ve handled all the attention since THAT week. You have honestly been in my thoughts every day since I read the post about Malta. I wonder how you’re really feeling about it all, as you put on such a calm and eloquent front to the trolls, I wondered if you really felt that OK with it. I certainly hope you didn’t find yourself getting upset or worried by anything anyone said. You did do a brave thing, as it’s hard to admit (even to ourselves) when our ‘chosen’ life isn’t perfect.
I’m glad in a way, as it put you in the spotlight and got you the coverage and attention that your writing deserves. It’s a shame that some of it was negative but you’ve clearly handled it well and can see the good, even in the bad and I only hope that more and more people keep coming back to read your thoughts 🙂
Oh my word that has to be one of my all time fave blog comments ever! Thank you. I think I may screenshot and frame it lol!
Seriously, I had a mini panicky moment at one point where the craziness of it hit me. Then last week I learned that ‘people’ were ‘making enquiries’ about me (beggars belief). I think the fact that so many people ‘rallied round’ and came to my defense such as lovely bloggers like you – and not only that but they really took TIME to do so in detail – helped because I didn’t feel alone. But yes I did think what have I done because everyone kept using that ‘brave’ word so then I realised I’d underestimated the impact it was going to have.
Well i can 100% agree with this.. and aptly timed. Last week was one of our best weeks so far when i published a piece on Anxiety. The post went CRAZY, shared all over the world and commented on more than any other post we have done so far. I was so nervous about being so open about the issue, but it seems to have opened people up to talking about it. I was stunned. So yes, writing from the heart really does make a difference. In fact, we have decided to share this post on our page later today!
Lots of love and Support as always from The Glass House Girls.xx
Thanks soooooo much lady.
Fabulous response! Measured and honest. I loved both your posts, maybe skip the overthinking every word more often? But maybe wait until the kids are back in school to avoid neglect!!xx
Thank you lol. And yes I concur re kids. What to do… Tis a blogger’s life.
Great post as always my dear friend! Maybe I should try writing from the heart sometime 😉
Hee hee well I rather like it when you write from a different part of the body. Ahem. #OhWhatCouldShePossiblyMean
Well I better be getting a Christmas present! LOL… Well said Prabs! Writing from your heart and evoking emotion whether it’s happy, indifferent or angry is exactly what a writer should be doing. That week you took your readers and evoked a fury of emotion BRAVO! I loved both of those posts.
A fury of emotion huh? Love it. Thanks for reading Rodders.