Yesterday, the Sunday Telegraph featured an article by gossip columnist Ros Reines, in which she slammed Mummy Bloggers in general and a few key players in particular, and shot an arrow at the burgeoning field of Daddy Bloggers, too.
Now, I support Ros's right to have an opinion. We all have opinions; I've certainly formed one about her column. What I object to is the mean-spiritedness which permeated her article.
The women and man mentioned in the piece are real people. They are real people with feelings and families and insecurities and hopes, and Ros tore them down quite knowingly with her words. Remember that these people aren't doing anything to hurt anyone; one is a broadcaster and writer, and the others are bloggers. None are vicious or cruel, in fact, the worst that Ros could accuse them of was being 'self-indulgent'. So why be so unkind?
Most forms of self-expression are 'self-indulgent' to an extent - writing, music, painting, dancing, they all are external depictions of an internal state. There is nothing wrong with this. It is life. It can be art.
If we don't like someone else's self-expression, then the sensible thing to do is to stay away. If you don't like someone's music, don't listen to it. It's simple. And if you don't like someone's blog, don't read it. Easy. There's no need to be mean. Just close the screen and be gone.
But by the same token, we as writers need to stop taking criticism so personally. Not everyone will like us, and that is okay. No writer (or musician, or artist, or dancer) can appeal to everyone. I cannot think of one piece of writing in the entire world that is universally loved - not Shakespeare, not Austen, not even Marian Keyes!!!! And if Shakespeare & Austen & Marian Keyes aren't universally loved, what chance on earth do I have?
My style of writing doesn't resonate with everyone, and I really am fine with that. I try to focus on the people who do enjoy my work, and forget about the ones who don't.
People, it is OKAY not to have universal appeal. I hope that you all remember that.
And Ros Reines, with the very deepest respect, I hope you can remember that too.