What happens when the football’s on (in which I visit a writing forum)


Get your flags at the ready and get the beer flowing, it’s time to watch them people on that grass court kick a bag of wind about and shout at each other and roll about on the floor when they trip over a daisy.

Or, alternatively, let’s visit a writing forum and see what’s going on over there.

Now, I’ve been dipping in and out of an online forum, which has a lot of useful and interesting threads about writing and reading recommendations, grammar, and the best sort of coffee to go with writer’s block.

(Answer: strong.)

And the weird thing is that over the couple of months I’ve been lurking there a recurring thread comes up time and time again.

It goes something like this:

“You were mean about what I wrote.”

“It’s a critique, and you asked for it.”

“But you were rude, and now I don’t like you, or any of you lot, anymore.”

“Well, now I’m offended because I spent all this time telling you what was wrong with your writing.”

“Well, don’t blame me, it was useless anyway.”

“Well I hate you and I’m never going to critique again.”

“Well, I hate you and I’m never going to post my work here again, I shall just show it to my cat who always loves it – you can tell he loves it because he likes to sit on it whenever I try and edit it.”

And so on and so forth and so bloody argumentative.

And the discussion (which, to be fair, is very well moderated by the people overseeing the site), drags on and on with one side saying they’ve effectively been trolled by bad comments, the other saying that they’re not charging for the pleasure of critiquing the work so you should be thankful for whatever you get.

And it strikes me that there are two things that we should all bear in mind:

Firstly, if you ask for a critique, you will get a critique. You don’t have to agree with it.

Secondly, if you give a critique, make it constructive. You don’t have to be rude.

Oh, and for good measure, let’s add a third one in…

Thirdly, if you’re losing at football, shout at the telly, blame it on the climate and the ill-fitting sportswear, and have another beer.

I think that about covers it.

Is the ball game thing over yet?