Times-Herald (Vallejo)

A writer shares, but her reader refuses

- Amy Dickinson

DEAR AMY >> I am a selfsuppor­ting working woman.

Over the past decades, I've written personal essays for various publicatio­ns. I don't make money at this; I wish I could!

I have a portfolio full of my work. Some pieces are humorous; some are serious.

I moved to a new town three years ago and made a new friend. She was going on a long car ride, so I offered to give her a few of my essays to read while she was away.

She has not said a word about any of the essays. I'm surprised because two of the pieces mention how my son battled cancer as a teenager. I had never discussed this extremely personal topic with my friend. I thought this was a good way to enlighten her. (My son is now cancer-free.)

I finally asked her if she read any of my work. She said she did. She had no comments. Nothing positive; nothing negative.

I find this very odd and a bit insulting. I am not a terrible writer. If the pieces were poorly written, they wouldn't have been published in the first place.

Is my friend upset that I never broached the subject of my son's illness before? I believe she's the type of person who would let me know that the omission upset her.

She didn't comment on the humorous pieces, either. Wouldn't a friend say SOMETHING?

I just don't get why she hasn't said a word about something very close to my heart.

Any ideas?

— At a Loss in Colorado

A negative response from a friend could be deflating, but no response is much worse, because the writer in you fills the void with questions and doubt.

Yes, I do think it's possible that your friend was shocked by some of the personal revelation­s you wrote about but had never disclosed to her. But some people simply do not realize that the kindest response from a friend is to offer encouragem­ent, a question, or a compliment, along with any less-positive comments if the conversati­on goes deeper.

It is possible that your friend simply didn't like your work, and doesn't know how to deliver a vague and friendly acknowledg­ement that might satisfy you.

Because this worries you, you could say to her, “I'm a little thrown off that you haven't had anything to say about my work. Are you open to having a conversati­on about it?” If she demurs, accept it. You should re-publish your work on a website, so in the future anyone who is interested in your writing can easily find and read it on their own, without you pressing it upon them.


DEAR AMY >> “Surviving Sister” described a harrowing situation where a “wellness check” on their brother resulted in armed police taking the man away in handcuffs.

People seem to wonder why family estrangeme­nts happen. In my opinion, it often comes down to the refusal to acknowledg­e and apologize for unintended consequenc­es.

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