In Defence of Harsh Words

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I can be a bit…harsh in my writing and advice. I’ve written a few angry rants so far and while for the most part people seemed to love them because it was a sort of vicarious catharsis for them, many did not. Many called me arrogant, an asshole, pretentious and told me to get off my high horse. Funnily enough, the more aggressive the comment, the more hateful it is, the more it makes me laugh. It’s not so much because I’m trolling people and wanting to bait people into anger, it’s more the fact that I’m a lot more chilled out in real life than what comes across in my rant pieces. They’re more a way of releasing pent up irritations into the world, which is why I generally don’t edit (or edit just to check for typos) them – I don’t want to think too much about it, because then I’d second guess everything I wrote merely for the sake of not pissing some people off.

But why so harsh, you might ask. Well, because I don’t want to try to be eloquent all the time. I don’t want to spend hours in thought on every single piece of writing I do, I don’t want to always try to put beautiful (in my eyes) work into the world. Sometimes, sometimes I just want to shake things up a bit. I’ve read numerous times that one of the best ways to write is as though you were speaking to one particular person, or a group of people. That’s what I’m often doing in a rant piece. Many people hate the style, but I’ve always been a fan of it. People think putting the word “fuck” in the title is me trying to click bait, but in reality it’s a signal to whomever wants to read that this isn’t a piece that will in any way be diplomatic or “nice”. It’s me saying “hold onto your butts, shit’s about to get real”.

It makes me think back to the first time I saw Alec Baldwin’s scene in Glengarry Glen Ross. You watch his character, who seems so hateful, so angry, as though every breath that comes out of his mouth must reek of bile, whose words at the assembled characters are like the relentless pounding of a minigun.

But after a little thought, you realise something. The scene ends and immediately follows the characters and their reactions. What do you think we would have seen if it had immediately followed Alec Baldwin’s character? Do you think we would have seen him getting into the car, pounding the steering wheel with anger, screaming into thin air how stupid and hopeless these schmucks are? Nope, he would’ve walked out that door and not given it a second thought. Maybe he even would have chuckled to himself. He was there to deliver a performance that would elicit a strong emotional response. The best response would be the guys feeding off his ruthless energy and finding new motivation. Or maybe one of them thinking “who the fuck does this guy think he is!? I’ll show him!” The worst responses would have been dejection and resignation.

I had one of those responses to my last rant. It stuck out in my head, after a commenter told me I was an arrogant, self-righteous SOB and that I had no right to trash other people’s writing. They took my rant personally, and told me that not only was I being detrimental to new writers, but that I discouraged her and made her want to throw down her pen and never pick it up again.

How perplexing.

Upon reading that, my first response was to furrow my brow and think, gee whiz, if one of my little pieces offended you so much that you don’t want to write anymore, are you sure it’s something you really wanted to do in the first place? Does one person’s opinion, which may not even be directed at you, really sway you so much to quit? Maybe you should quit, and I say that in a completely non douchey, concerned for your well being tone.

But if you really, truly love writing, then write. Don’t worry what the hell I (or anyone else) think. That goes for whatever you want to do – it’s pointless letting other people’s opinions bother you. Shit, the amount of abuse I’ve copped since my stuff started gaining traction is crazy; people call me arrogant, stupid, an asshole, an idiot, and so on. But why would I care? Hell, I’ve even had family friends go on incoherent, pointless rants over what I’ve written. All I could do was laugh and think “wow, guess who got paid actual money just to get your knickers in a twist?” It probably helps that I’ve got a very nihilistic attitude towards life and that carries over to my writing – some people are going to love what I say, some people are going to hate it. Some will leave a really insightful or thoughtful comment, some will just be indifferent. None of it matters, because sooner or later I’ll be pushing up daisies and not long after that everything I’ve done will likely be forgotten anyway.

And that being the case, I’m going to write whatever the hell I feel like. If people are going to misread what I write, or take it in the wrong way, or project their own baggage onto it anyway, then there’s no point writing something mild, vanilla and boring. I’d rather be hated for writing something that I think is true than being hated for writing what I think people are going to like to gain approval.

Look, I’m not going to tell you to grow a thicker skin and just deal with it. After having my master’s thesis (something that I worked on for 3 months) eviscerated by one of the markers, not to mention six years in the military, I’m used to and in fact quite enjoy harsh, right to the point criticism. I know that’s not everyone’s cup of tea though. So if you aren’t used to harsh words and criticism, if you’re one of those people that just wishes we could all get along, I apologise, it’s just never going to happen. Take anything I say with a grain of salt, and before you get upset or offended, ask yourself if my (or anyone’s) opinion is really worth so much of your mental energy.