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I almost didn’t write this post. I almost didn’t hit the “publish” button and almost let these words disappear into lost-prose obscurity.
Then I thought, “no.” I told myself to do it.
Others out there might be having these same doubts, my inner monologue said. Others may too be dealing with a stranger who comments in cruel form on a blog post of theirs and for these people suffering in the dubious ether of my mind, the crippling blow dealt to their self-confidence might persuade them to never write again.
I couldn’t let that happen. I’d pick up my sword-shaped pen and write.
So with eyes closed, I hit publish and here we are today.
OK, maybe I should back up …
A few weeks ago, I posted an interview with myself. It was meant to be tongue-in-cheek and fun, a play on the many interviews I’ve read before. I wasn’t publishing it to brag about my accolades and honestly, at the time I had zero reservations about a self-prescribed Q&A.
In response to the post, a WordPress user commented that I was a narcissist. I probably should’ve let the comment go without a response but instead I slammed fingertips to keyboard and replied:

Sorry to hear you feel that way. I was provided these questions and chose to publish them on my own blog. I think writers should support all those trying to make their way in the craft. Sending you positivity and light.

I don’t know. Maybe it was petty to respond but it’s just how I felt. Yes, of course dissension is good—it is after all the lifeline of a thriving, progressive society—but I’m also a believer in that old adage, “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
In a paradisiacal world made of rose petals and rainbows, we’d never tear other artists down presumably to build ourselves up.
As a creative writer, publishing anything (even this very post) is not without its trials and nervous tribulations. A typo, a grammatical error, an idea improperly posed could mar my credibility and cause readers to eschew my little words.
Years ago, I used to worry a lot more about this perplexity than I do today and I’ve since found, in foregoing the judgment of others, I’m free to write unrestrained. If someone doesn’t like what I do, it probably means I’m doing something right. It’s kind of like when a guy sees his ex-girlfriend for the first time since the break-up and reacts dramatically. If he was over it, if her presence truly didn’t touch him on any kind of emotional level, he wouldn’t care.
Art, in that sense, is meant to evoke emotion. It’s our job as artists—painters, writers, poets—to make people care by putting out stuff that causes the mind and soul to react. Good or bad responses we can’t control (and most artists probably want to elicit the former) but we cannot and should not make art that pleases all; we can only construct the best thing we can, hold our breath, let it out and move on.
So what if it’s provocative? So what if it’s nothing you’ve seen or read before? That’s art. Creation is an ever-evolving lesson in painting outside the boundaries of convention and without this spirit of otherness, our world would be boring. Art wouldn’t need to exist.
Now, if this rant meant absolutely nothing to you then good; you haven’t yet felt the unkind burn of dissent. But if, like me, there’s negativity swirling among your optimistic palette, please vow to take those dark colors and turn them into something bright.
Also, remember that while we cannot change our critics’ minds, we can control our reactions to their undeserved enmity. We can meet their cruelty with positive vibes and then from this positivity, create even more unbridled, unabridged art.
That’s my personal plan, anyway. And if in doing so they still call me vain, then let them paint me as a narcissist after all.

If you liked this post, let’s connect: @melissakandel


  • garrystafford says:

    Shoot. You, dear Melis, are no narcissist. If the worst you can do is suggest positivity in all your defensiveness then, um, no. 🙂 An ex-girlfriend taught me the dangers of narcissism. And obtaining that “ex” now attached to girlfriend was incomprehensibly challenging. So you just show these narcissistic-projecting, jealous, and moronic trolls the door! In other words, I agree with you. I just ain’t got the eloquence chops! Obviously. Keepagoing. Stretch those boundaries and hit the post button! Always, always, always, love the way you put words together….

  • umashankar says:

    If you have to be a narcissist to write the way do, then so be it. The analogy of the ex-girlfriend is bang on.

  • That’s not my impression since following your blog. 🙂 As women, we are constantly told we have to be better at self-promotion, but when we try to do that, there are always critics as you’ve found. Shake it off, keep going and don’t give it another thought. And as they say in the classics, “Go girl.”

  • Narcissistic tendencies is a serious allegation. Hitler was the ultimate example of someone who elevated his own thoughts and feelings to this point. So don’t worry Melissa, your not that. Don’t even give a reply like that any soil to grow in your life and mind.

  • If a blog’s a place for expressing your thoughts, no one should be able to make you think twice about it! Of course, that’s also probably what the person who wrote the comment thought… but you can’t, and don’t have to please everyone, and that’s perfectly alright!
    Personally, I’d call it self-exploration, and that’s really cool!

  • Sara says:

    Omg, a) you’re SUCH a great writer and b) I’m laughing at the thought you are a narcissist- YOU a narcissist, um no!!!!

  • Melanie Ann says:

    It was not petty that you responded. Your response was classy and to the point. To the person who commented. They obviously don’t know how to “read between the lines” at times. There will always be someone who will drag others down. They are just unhappy with themselves

  • This is great! You are exactly right. If you have something negative to say keep it to yourself. If only that was the norm today….the world would be a better place!

  • k… ive been following for a long time and I see nothing narcissistic…. rly people? dab on dem haters chic xD.

  • Brite Shiny says:

    “I should not talk so much about myself if there were anybody else whom I knew as well.”
    ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

  • wonderwilde says:

    I haven’t been following you for very long, but I have enjoyed everything that you have written. Haters gonna hate!

  • archipunny says:

    I could’nt agree more with what your say about art evoking emotions. We can be aware of these emotions, and know that something has the power to make us happy or angry or amused. Words are the same!

  • Hi Melissa.I just set up my own site a few days ago and I had a hard time hitting that big green button too!I think that just shows our sense of responsibility and conscientiousness,not a bad thing for writers.My first comment I got on my site was negative,but in a world of 7+billion there’s bound to be a few people that don’t like what you write,draw,paint,etc.We can’t all be Jackson Pollock or Hemingway,but we aim for doing better.That’s as much as anyone can expect.On critics-“I have your review and I’m in the smallest room in the house.Your review is in front of me and soon it will be behind me”Good luck,friend,you’re doing awesome!!

  • P.S.There will always be fewer people that write well than people who can read well.Nice response to the one that called you a narcissist,very classy.

  • Christine says:

    The fact that someone called you a narcissist and it bothers you actually proves that you are not a narcissist. Narcissist don’t feel emotion. Also, the fact that you considered “others” at any point is not something a narcissist is able to do. Narcissists don’t care for other people. Probably a narcissist that left the comment.

  • Why do ‘they’ call you a narcissist? ??

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