Recently I discovered someone was blocking me on Twitter. Hardly an uncommon occurrence, one that happens all the time to most of us I expect, and one that rarely bothers me.
In this case, though, it was someone I ‘knew’ reasonably well, and I thought we got along reasonably well.
A few weeks earlier I’d even commented on their blog, and received a rather cryptic reply which included ‘I know we’ve had our differences in the past…’. That had me scratching my head because I wasn’t aware we’d had our differences in the past!
I let it go, but when I found out said person had also blocked me on Twitter, I just had to know why.
I’m not going to name this person because this isn’t a rant against them, and I still like and respect them, irrespective of whatever misunderstanding has occurred – rather, you could call this another rant against miscommunication.
So I asked a mutual friend if she knew the gory details of our ‘falling out’, because I certainly didn’t! As I expected, she did. Apparently, I had maligned flash fiction.
More head scratching.
‘I don’t recall ever saying anything bad about flash fiction,’ I said. And I’m pretty good at remembering the things I malign because, well, it’s usually deliberate. I have strong opinions, and I voice them. It’s not really in my character to forget those opinions. And I certainly don’t even have a strong opinion about flash fiction, beyond the fact I suck at it.
Vague niggle. Unless… ‘The only thing I can think I might have said is that flash fiction isn’t a story, it’s a blurb.’
‘That’s it exactly,’ my friend said.
‘But… that’s a commentary on my own inability to write it, not a derogatory comment about flash fiction.’
Which it is. I write epic and high fantasy, which is nearly always multiple, heavy tomes. In the space of flash fiction, I’m only just beginning to warm up. Sure, brevity is a good thing, but the skill-sets required to write flash fiction and the multiple, subtle plot-lines of epic fantasy are very different. I’ve tried my hand at flash fiction, and the outcome was pretty much – don’t bother. But I have a great deal of admiration for people who can write flash, for the very fact I can’t. I don’t much enjoy reading it, as it doesn’t occupy me long enough, but that does not prevent me from admiring the skill with which it is crafted.
|What do you mean that's not what flash fiction is...?|
My friend assured me she’d had a long discussion arguing my defence with this person, raising all those points, to no avail.
Obviously the end outcome was blocking me.
Which all seemed a little silly to me. A simple private discussion with me may well have completely cleared the matter, and it hardly seems a blocking offence.
The funny thing (or not so funny, really) is a friend and I stopped talking for two years because of a similar misunderstanding. We both assumed we knew what the other meant, didn’t ask, and after 15 years of friendship, nearly lost that friendship.
So I guess there’s a few things to take out of this:
- I generally leave people in no doubt as to what I think about the things I disapprove of. If I am really going to whale on something, I won’t make one ambiguous comment about it. I do not stint in my disapproval. If I really disapprove of something, it’ll rate on this blog. You’ll notice there’s no flash fiction rant…
- For heaven’s sake, if you’re not sure what I meant, or you think I was unfair in something I said, ask. I'm not all that unreasonable and I don’t bite. OK, I don’t bite most of the time and then usually only when the recipient deserves it.
If you missed it, check out my discussion of Discovery Writers in the context of A Memory of Light.
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