Thursday, July 06, 2006

People hear (read) what they want to hear (read)

After more than five years writing a column that appears in front of more than 150,000 people once a week, I've received a generous number of emails, letters and clippings that made it clear to me that many of those people believe I'm a complete jerk.

Most of those notes come from people who feel compelled to judge every aspect of my being based on about 750 words I composed five days before they appear in print. They have every right to do that I guess, but most of the time, their judgement is flawed. Not because I'm perfect. Because they absolutely missed the point of whatever I tried to communicate in my column. Which means their conclusion is probably inccurate. But it also leads me to doubt my ability to make a point in print.

I've had my favorites over the years. One person writes me (anonymously of course) and points out the number of times I use the word "I" in my Opinion piece. Errr - it is an opinion piece- my opinion at that. How very bold of he / she to leave their assessment unsigned.

Over the years, readers have called me a terrible mother, a cold career women, a blazing feminist, and a throwback to barefoot and pregnant womanhood. I baby my children too much; I'm raising rude brats. I should be ashamed of their behavior. I've been labeled a liberal, a communist, a conservative idiot and an immoral person who should be concerned about the state of her immortal soul.

I'm sappy. I'm harsh. I'm funny. I'm sarcastic. I think I'm being clever but I'm wrong; I'm really just a no talent loser who has somehow found a way onto a newspaper page every Sunday.

It's always eye-opening to discover exactly what people read in my column. Many, many times it's not remotely connected to what I wrote.

And that's been the most interesting part of this whole column-writing experience. While I think I'm being clear and saying one thing, people often read something quite the opposite or irelevant to my topic at hand. That continues to amaze me. I have a love-hate relationship with my email because I'm the worst correspondent in the world. I tend to answer emails about three months after I get them which leaves the people who write to me quite mystified about my response when it finally arrives in their inbox.

Despite everything, including the venom that leaps from the screen from time to time, I love writing the column and I even love the emails, regardless of the content. I often find myself wondering why I'm still writing it, five years in, and if I'll be asking myself that question in another five years. I judge it very harshly every week, when it finally makes its debut to the world. Some days I scan it and wonder why I didn't correct that one overused phrase or fix the comparison I tried to make but did it badly.

All this to say not much more than the blog has been horribly out of date of late and I apologize to anyone who has visited on more than one occasion only to leave empty-handed. Don't give up on it - or on me. I'll try harder to keep it current - filled with the minutia that makes up my life and takes up most of the space in my head.

Talk soon - thanks for visiting -

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