Better than nothing at all

Back in the seventies when I was a student in Cologne, I submitted poems to various publications; some were published, and others returned with the usual brief note about the poem(s) not being the right fit for an edition or anthology. I once received a short letter from Zoe Fairbairns when she edited Spare Rib, saying that she liked the economy of my poetry, which gave me a glow – I still have it somewhere.

For many years I wrote poetry because I enjoyed it, filling notebooks, building up a collection of Word documents full of sonnets, haiku, all kinds of poetry that no one saw, except members of my family and friends, who occasionally received them in greetings cards. Single motherhood and work took over and I wrote less and less.

Then I retired, picked up a novel I’d started while I was teaching, and rediscovered the joys of writing, which led to exploring WordPress, other people’s blogs, and websites like this one, with poetry prompts and challenges. I concluded that any response is welcome to the words I spend so much time on. Any criticism, positive or negative, is better than the wall of silence I face if I don’t share my writing.

Kim M. Russell, 16th August 2019

Me in the 70s
Me when I was a student in Cologne

My response to Poets United Moonlight Musings: the Interactive Edition, #1

Magaly welcomes us to a new prompt on the third Friday of every month, in which we can explore writing, reading, books, publishing, and share thoughts on the art, the craft, the magic (and business) of words.

She says that the idea for this first edition was prompted by an exchange on Instagram about an elfchen she had written – and some negative criticism.

Magaly has invited us to write short articles (in 369 words or fewer), which explore negative criticism.

29 thoughts on “Better than nothing at all

  1. Kim, I am right there with you. I share my writing publicly because I’ve always felt that words don’t really like to exist in silence. I’m sure I’m not alone in having people ask, “Why do you share your work for free, for instance, when you could sell it (or try to)?” Your conclusion answers that question. I also agree with you that some criticism is better than none (even if said criticism isn’t immediately helpful). I always thank anyone who takes the time to read my work. What I do with what they offer is up to me. And in the end, I always seem to find something good to do with it.

    Thank you so much for being the first to take part in Moonlight Musings: the Interactive Edition!

    P.S. Once, Neil Gaiman said some nice things about a bit of my writing. I know exactly where that message is, lol!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your reply, Magaly, I appreciate it. Neil Gaiman – now that’s impressive!

      So much for being first to take part – I got behind with everything else yesterday afternoon and now I’m struggling to catch up with reading and commenting this morning, let alone writing, which I’ve usually done by now (8.36 UK time). Next week I’m confined to barracks as we have building work starting on Monday. I hope it’s not too noisy as I want to use the tiem to write.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Kim, I enjoyed reading about your writing journey, and what led you to WordPress. And your take on criticism. I see criticism as part and parcel of putting one’s work out there in the public space. People will always have opinions, and if we are lucky we might even get constructive criticism. Dealing with negative criticism though is a different ball game, and by the way, silence too is a response. I think it’s important as writers to not let negative criticism cripple us because we certainly cannot please everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That last line just sums it up perfectly. I would rather have criticism, positive or negative, rather than silence. I think it’s called constructive criticism because it’s something that should help build up rather than tear down.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Oh, i love this. Yes, few people read my poems before i discovered the world of online poetry. It gave wings to my words for years. (Those wings are getting a little tired now, lol.) The comment you received reminded me of one i received as a teen that had a detrimental effect. Thanks for this, now i know what to write about!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. ” Any criticism, positive or negative, is better than the wall of silence…” How I adore this line! As a blog writer we so much cherish others’ feedback, be that constructive or negative. One doesn’t at least feel neglected. Bloggers specially love interaction. We all feel that ‘glow’ when a good writing is properly appreciated. So lovely to read this.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Better than the wall of silence. I like that-a lot! Your poetry is stellar and I’m looking forward to a book😀. The perfect thing is that your grandson will still hear your voice for decades!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Rosemary. The best response has been from our lovely on-line poetry communities, where kindness abounds. Most negative responses came from writing groups or workshops.
      The photo of me is from my early twenties, when I was very much involved in poetry reading at a feminist bookshop, not long before I got pregnant with my daughter.


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