Thursday, January 4, 2007

blog posts, kafka, harsh criticism, etc.

date recieved: January 3rd
via: email

listen nessie,

i have written a long and very honest assessment of the kafka post and the blog in general. i am scared to send it to you because i think you might get horribly offended and despise me forever. if i didn't care or didn't think you could do so much better, i surely wouldn't say anything at all. i would humour you and without feeling, edit your blog with detachment. however, i do think you can do better and i want to see you have more fun with your writing about books. i am also not saying destroy the whole blog or that none of it is good, but i do think you can improve the quality of the posts. maybe you disagree, and then that is fine. it's your blog, after all. but i think as your editor and friend that i should make my thoughts on this clear. anyway, should you decide, after reading this that i am indeed a skank-ass-whore and do not deserve to work on the blog, i will understand.

first thing:

you've really got to make sure you are copying those quotations from the book right, because i don't even have the book and i've notcied grammatical and spelling mistakes. this is bad. i mean, now you're making kafka out to be a bad speller and i don't think that's very fair.

also, don't take this the wrong way, but i simply must be honest. it was difficult for me to correct that. i don't agree with you at all, and not just with what you're writing but how you go about doing these blog posts. you're terrifically intelligent and you've got the schooling, so why do these posts read like they were written by someone far less sophisticated? don't get super mad and don't hate me, but i just think you're capable of more. i know you're not an academic and that you're also trying to achieve a lighthearted, fun tone, but writing about literature in this manner is a bit negligent. i mean, i just think that writing these posts should be a challenge to you. you should wrestle with ideas when writing about a book more than when you read it. criticism, even lighthearted blog criticism, should be art-like in itself. why cloud the internet, the world, with more easy phrases and empty expressions? instead of musing on kafka's promise as a party-going friend or as a lover, think about how and why this book could (and does) resonate with people. why is it important? it needs to be thought through, it won't simply come to you in a second as you read, it isn't an easy answer you can immediately transfer to your blog. i'm not saying i could do any better, because i surely couldn't, but i do think you need to spend a little more time thinking about these books and how you address them.

what you're writing is purely immediate reactions (" i was glad when gregor dies!"), and conclusions that are never really explored. you list some themes, but don't mention how these are worked into the book or how they are meaningful. correct me if i am wrong, but it seems like your focus is how you felt when reading the book, the plot, how you felt towards the main characters, etc. you write that no one feels anything for any of the characters in the book, but you don't really support that statement with anything. when i read it in high school, i felt ready to cry. obviously, as you mentioned, there are tons of interpretations, but you've got to make some argument. honestly, i know people read the blog and are so far content with it, but if i were some reader on the internet, i would not be interested in your reading of kafka. because you aren't saying anything new or terrribly interesting. it's all personal reaction and ill-explained opinions. and besides your natural gifts, ect, you've got that wonderful passion for reading books. and if you want to transfer that passion onto the page, you've got to give this writing about books as much attention as the reading. reading these great works is a hard enough task, but writing about them, especially for the public, is a hundred times more difficult and daunting, and i think you've got to treat it seriously, even if you are going for light and fun. you don't have to like kafka, or anything deemed a 'classic', but you've got to write, in an intelligent, thorough way why you feel this way. you need to pay attention to the details and subtleties of works. kafka's book is titled The Metamorphosis, while Ovid's is The Metamorphoses. yes, one is singular, one plural, but very often the same titles are used for works...did you read somewhere that kafka was inspired by ovid? or is that pure speculation/ assumption? see, i find that everything needs to be investigated, you've got to think a bit more and tease out, with words, what you want to say in the best way possible. i know it's for fun, and it's primarily a place for you to explore and develop your passion, but if it's something you're working on and spending time on, i think it ought to be thought through properly. even wild passion benefits from some constraints or regulation.

and that is all i have to say tonight, do not hate me. you mentioned you cannot take blog criticism at the moment and i am giving you heapfuls. maybe one day when i write a few phrases, you can be the first to point out my weaknesses, mistakes and negligence. however, since it is you that has taken the courageous step of writing about literature and writing your own book, and not me, you are getting this criticism. alas, alas, alas.

by the way, the reading of the poem sounds great.

your friend,


Sara said...

One of my favorite things about blogs is being able to get a mix of deep reads and personal impressions. With classics, it's not often that you get an honest opinion of them (at least not in academia, which is where I encounter most of them) and with popular novels, it's not often that you get a thorough analysis of them. Bloggers hold nothing sacred, so we are able to say "I love Charlotte Bronte!" and then in the next post analyze the political implications of something like The Nanny Diaries.

Maybe you are selling yourself short if you don't reveal how educated you are, but that doesn't matter if you're not trying to sell yourself.

nessie said...

I forgot to add two things. M will kill me if I don't ;)

a) I did improve on my Kafka report thanks to her critique

b) I removed the line about Kafka not being someone I would want to sleep with (it just looks like he would be the no forplay kind of guy)

c) skank-ass-whore is a term that I often call other individuals. M was using it so that I can familiarize myself with the up coming scene we went through. hehehe

She just found out I posted it and thinks I did it because she 'forgot about me' in another incident. Nonono I say. Not true! That revenge has yet to come.

Thanks for the perspective Sara (&M) It is true that there is rarely a time when doing something to half of ones capabilities isn't right. Yet, there is something refreshing in not having to worry about the grade of my fellow classmate or being quized on the exact definition of what &^^* is.

booklogged said...

Egads! I hope your editor never reads my blog. I now know the reason I've never wanted to be a writer. Having said all that, I am taking M's suggestion to think about WHY and HOW a book is important, why it resonates or doesn't.

A bit of criticism for M: The no capital letter style is not cool.

Orange Blossom Goddess (aka Heather) said...

Is M a real person? Is M your alter-ego? I agree with Booklogged - thinking about why and how a book is important and why it resonates or doesn't is something I don't think clearly about but I think I'd like to for the future. (I have gobs of education but sometimes I just want to write that I liked a book or didn't - I'm still a smartie-pants.)


nessie said...

M is definitely a real person and is definitely not my alter ego. M is some-what of a friend but more of a punching bag for ideas, thoughts and books! And as you can see, she hurts ;)

M is kind enough to edit my posts. As you may have noticed my comments on other blogs and my own are full of spelling mistakes. Without M my posts would be illegible. Hats off M!

Sara said...

The new Firefox has a spellcheck feature, so all of your spelling mistakes are underlined in read as you type them, just like in Word. Ver helpful for those of us who refuse to bow down to the tyrants of prescriptive spelling!

SuziQoregon said...

I'll just add "what Booklogged and Heather said"


Bookfool said...

Geez, I feel really bad about my blog, now. Do I think about the how and why of a book's importance enough? I don't know, but I'd guess probably not. I guess I'll have to challenge myself to think about those things deliberately, like Booklogged, Heather and SuziQ.