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Sunday 3 July 2011

Whispers From The Second Row

My post Opening Weekend, and Seventeen Years Later started slowly. It had no comments and I was convinced, as I nearly always am, that people disapprove of, or are disinterested in what I am writing. And then there were a few interesting comments, and my fears quietened -- the commenter's began talking about the comments section itself. 

Happy Frog & I: "I'm really surprised no one has commented on this post. There are certain films that I can put on when I have had a horrible day and I know they will make me feel better. The Big Sleep, Before Sunset, Gross Point Blank, the list goes on and on. I know what I write and what I'm interested will not appeal to everyone but I try and stay true to what makes me feel good."

Paul S: "The lack of response to this post just highlights how flawed Blogger is as a format. People like Happy Frog are an honourable exception because the vast majority of bloggers pay scant attention to anyone's writing but there own no matter how interesting and inspiring it might be.

I was going to share the films that always make me feel better but I stopped and thought, will anyone read this ? and will anyone care? Sadly I don't think they will, or maybe I'm just having a bad day ?
Kid, you deserve better!""

A couple of things got touched on -- one, the lack of feedback a writer gets -- and secondly, the hopelessness of the person leaving a comment. Is anyone reading? Does anyone care? These are common concerns for writers, whatever format they are working in. 

It's just a blog, is a common thought. But blogs are personal; and the interactions take place between people who, like in any other form of conversing -- they need to know they exist. They need to know somebody cares. 

When things really suck, people make it known.
When things are good, people aren't inspired to say anything. 
When things are great, people assume great things are already being said, compliments given, etc. 

After that, Invisible Kid commented directly on the subject matter of the blog. Thoughtful, opinionated and fascinating comments like this often get read by me, and possibly few else. A huge amount of my followers do so by email, and don't see the comments. It's a shame, because you miss things like this:

Invisible Kid: "I hear and agree - ultimately you must do what you need to do and if others get it as well then so much the better. However we all have to pay the bills, but we can still manage to do that while retaining some integrity and dignity.

I too am a fan of Kevin Smith - although as you so succinctly put it, he seems to have lost his passion. I may have read or heard on one of his prolific podcasts that he was to give up directing in the near future. I gather he intends to prefer the podcast/internet radio route to getting his message (such that it is) out there. He seems to be of the opinion that he has been bluffing his way and is just waiting to get found out.
I think that what made him successful has also been his undoing - That and the whole social networking phenomenon/curse. I may be going off at a tangent here but it seems that everything has to be reduced down to a sound bite or a 140 character tweet. Facebook used to be a great way of keeping in touch with friends and family around the world, but nowadays it seems full of insignificant people posting insignificant nonsense about where they are and what they are doing - they seem to have their noses stuck into a digital device for so long that surely while they are recording for posterity the last thing they did or saw or thought, they are missing the next half dozen. At the risk of making a gross generalisation, many people don't have the time or inclination to read a blog, let alone write one. They need the fast food equivalent in manageable bite sized chunks. Easily digestible but ultimately bland and unsatisfying.
The same is true of movies - as audiences seem to have increasingly shortened attention spans, there seems to be a worrying lack of originality in mainstream cinema. Oh I know its there if you go looking for it, but most multiplexes are only interested in bums on seats and popcorn cartons on the floor. 

My taste in film is akin to my taste in music - fashion and trends have nothing to do with either. If I happen to like something that you also like, then good for the both of us, we have something in common, which is nice, but I will continue to like what I like for my own reasons and not because someone says I should.
I am going to end it there because I can feel the ideas starting to bubble and I feel it better that I sort them into some semblance of order and turn it into a post of my own rather than rambling on in this fashion and hi-jacking your blog as I have done others on occasion. Oh and that post may be some way off or may never see the light of day so don't feel I am self promoting."

Great thoughts there, but also, some things resonate deeply when they're short and simple. LEAT somehow came across a posting of mine from September 2010 called "Don't Keep Your Talents At Home" and left this comment.

LEAT: "I know this is an old post, but it resonates so much on a summer morning listening to Ben Folds. There's always an audience, and if there isn't then there's the collaborators; and if you don't have them you have the creation. GOOD MORNING WORLD!"

What a wonderful thought. Worth repeating: There's always an audience, and if there isn't then there's the collaborators; and if you don't have them you have the creation.

The comments are an important part of this website. But too often they get marginalized, pushed to the side and forgotten. I am writing this post to remind people that, on a personal level, I care about them deeply, I love it when people share their thoughts and ideas and passion here. But I am also aware, as Paul S helped bring to my attention, they often seem invisible, or irrelevant. I will be doing a lot more posts like this in the future, bringing the conversation out in a more open and hopefully deeper way. 


  1. I'm one of those who reads every blog post, but doesn't always comment. I assume others do the same on my blog, since I have about a hundred times more views than I have comments, and I get it.

    Sometimes you just don't feel like leaving a comment, even if what you've read really resonates. Sometimes there's nothing more to say. Just know that just because you're not getting feedback, the things you say do stick with people and inspire them on a daily basis.

  2. We are writers and a writer, we want feedback.

    Yet, I'm not the one topping the list of feedback-givers myself. Shame on me.

    But I do read.

    Sometimes I get touched in a way that makes me dying to write a reply, but I wouldn't say those other blog entries are bad just because I wanted to reply to one in particular.

    Honestly, I should get better at this. What's wrong with just saying "great post"? A little short, yet, but to the point. And I have showed my appreciation.

  3. I'm glad Invisible Kid commented on your post. He has made very insightful comments on some of my blog posts too that did make the whole process much more rewarding. It was thanks to your blog that I also got to 'meet' Paul S. That's been one of the best things about blogging for me, meeting new people and get some kind of interactivity going.

    I really like the idea behind this post, to feature some of the comments that you have received publicly from time to time. I always go back and look at previous comments of posts that appeal to me on blogs but I know not everyone does.

  4. I think it's great that you've chosen to give insightful comments a spotlight of their own in this entry. Sometimes the comments left on a blog can be as thought provoking and well written as the post itself, and just as deserving of praise.