October 15, 2010

No Problems

Some of you may know that I have a regular column in the Australian Jewish News. (And for those of you who will inevitably ask, yes I am Jewish, no I don't speak Hebrew, no I do not go to synagogue every week, no I do not celebrate Christmas. For any further questions about the Chosen People, please email me.)

So here’s the thing. In my entire eight years or so at the Jews News, I have received very little positive feedback. Only about 50% of all letters to the editor about me have been positive. In fact, exactly 50% of all letters to the editor about me have been positive. The other one was not.

The positive letter arrived by email, written by a suspiciously single monikered correspondant called ‘Cloudman’ or ‘Threeprong’ or something like that. It stated that I was a very good writer, and that ‘what Kerri does is a lot harder than it looks’. Now, this isn’t quite true, as what I do is exactly as hard as it looks, but hey, I’ll take a compliment however it comes.

The other letter, written by someone called Luby Loo or Liberty Bell or whatever was rather less flattering. ‘Kerri is pathetic, useless and crap’ it said, or words to this effect. To be honest, I couldn’t quite understand the letter, as it was very cerebral, and included the words ‘trivial’, ‘disenfranchised’ and ‘mondongo’ (okay, so not really that last one, but I’ve been dying to use ‘mondongo’ in a sentence).

So my point is, aside from Cloudman Threeprong and Luby Bell, I have no idea if anyone actually reads my columns. So in my latest column, I extended an invitation to all my readers to email me with their feedback.

Well, the Jews News only came out on Thursday, and it's early days yet, but so far there have been dozens of emails. Using 'dozens' in its minimalist sense of 'five'.

The first four emails were lovely, complimentary notes about how much the correspondant enjoys my columns. Then the fifth was a very helpful email from a man named 'Gruff Crumpet' (not his real name, though it possibly should be).

Gruff decided to provide me with some constructive feedback on my work. My latest column, he wrote, was the best, "for the simple reason that you:

a. didn't mention your children
b. didn't mention your husband and
c. didn't mention your domestic or personal travails."

So in a column about family life and the myriad of minor crises that befall me every day, the only bad bits are those about my kids, spouse and problems. Which is fine. I can totally understand. And, happily, there's still a lot in my writing left over to love. There's the font, for example. There is the impressive array of prepositions and conjunctions. And there are the occasional references to non familial nouns ('banana' comes to mind), and to topics that do not involve any personal travail on my part ('banana' also comes to mind).

So from now on, I shall try to do as Gruff Crumpet advises: Life And Other Crises, with no problems, kids or spouses.

Stay tuned, people. It's going to be great. Banana split, anyone?


  1. Anyone who likes or even uses the word mondongo,is bound to be a tragic failure as a writer. Keep at it, Kerri. Some people don't become successful until they're at least 45.....

  2. I'm really looking forward to your banana post.

  3. There is plenty that can be said about commenting online. As you're a professional writer, I can see why you could benefit from this, but from my point of view as a "sometimes professional writer", I am not so enamoured of online commenting as I once was.

    I used to read the online magazine Salon.com quite a bit, but when their policy became unmoderated comments, I noticed there was a marked increase in readers attacking the writers. Naturally I feel protective about this on my own account, but I also feel that many attack letters are the result of a moment's thought and are usually aimed at stories that are at least the work of hours if not days or weeks.

    I could go on about this in greater detail and I plan to in my bloggy piece of cyberspace soon, but I have become rather disenchanted with the amount of negative commentary I see.

    It seems I prefer the old school way of doing things. Although your experience seems to disprove the following theory, I always believed that the trouble one had to go to, in order post a letter to the editor, meant a certain amount of filtering went on before the letter writer even got to the Australia Post letterbox.

    It's not that I think writers are above criticism, but I believe many who comment don't understand how to constructively criticise ideas nor do they know how to maintain a useful level of civility.

    People who can use words well usually understand their power. Many who comment online simply pepper the Internet as though firing indiscriminately with a semi-automatic pistol.

  4. To placate Gruff Crumpet, would the Jews News consider publishing your MamaMia sex columns instead? No kids in those.

  5. The banana topic might be hard to sustain in a regular column. What about birds? Do you have anything witty to write about birds, Kerri

  6. Nooo, don't appeal to the negatives, go for the masses who giggle then get back to their actual life, because they have one, not the boring ones who whinge & complain as their daily highlight!! Love Posie

  7. I read the AJN and get so excited when I see your column which is always hilarious but unfortunately is not in the AJN every week!!

  8. I love banana's. Can't eat them though, too mucusy. Your man Gruff Crumpet, Threeprong and Luby Bell...are you sure they are Jewish? These people have no sense of humour whatsoever. I think they are just pretending to be Jewish. Everyone knows that Jewish humour revolves around children, husbands and domestic and personal travails and all the other suffering that comes with life!!
    Love your blog, its like a breath of fresh air and it makes me laugh & now that I know I can find your column in the Jewish News I'll read it from now on too!

  9. I'm thinking that Gruff Crumpet has found out about your bacon munching and is jealous - bacon is great on a crumpet. Loved this piece Kerri.

  10. I think you should add the word 'Mondongo' to the list of Things I Write About keywords at the right of your blog. Some people may struggle to find that sentence.
    Please continue to write exactly as you have in the past. Well, not exactly. That would be a bit repetitive. But, you know, keep going. You rock, and that.


Thanks! Love hearing from you.

Like it? Share it!