Sunday, 1 March 2015


I have never been very good at taking compliments. I never know how you're supposed to react when somebody says something nice about you. I guess you just smile and say thank you, or even return the compliment? It just always feel so awkward and fake. I think the root of the problem comes from not actually believing whatever nice thing is being said. A combination of low self-esteem and not trusting anyone, I suppose. Although I don't have low self-esteem, not really. It's just... I know how to deal with insults. That's easy. Fight fire with fire. But when somebody offers me genuine praise I get all sweaty and uncomfortable and I just want to hide. JUST TELL ME I'M A FUCKING DICK ALREADY! 

I think the trust thing is a big part of the problem. I find it hard to believe that people say or do nice things without wanting something in return. Whenever my boss says something nice to me I'm thinking "Okay, whose shift do you want me to cover?". Whenever somebody says something nice about my zine, part of me is thinking "You're just saying this so that I publish your work in the next issue". Even when my own girlfriend says something nice to me/about me a little part of me is thinking "You just want me to make you a cup of tea". How fucked up is that?!?

I recently sent the latest issue of my literary zine off to be reviewed by a website called Sabotage Reviews and whilst I had hoped they would enjoy it and perhaps say some nice things about it, I was completely overwhelmed by the review. One line in particular stood out from the rest and I had to read it several times for it to sink in:
"it becomes clearer with each issue that there is a keen critical mind at work in the editorial process"
A keen critical mind? Me? Really? Suddenly I went from making a zine for fun, picking and choosing from the submission I like and rejecting the ones I don't to having a "keen critical mind". I am currently putting the next issue together. The submission deadline closed today so I am in the midst of reading through the plethora of subs that I received and because of that one line I now feel all this pressure on me. Pressure to be this keen critical mind. Pressure to make issue #5 even better than #4. Pressure flex my "selection muscles" as the reviewer put it. PRESSUREPRESSUREPRESSURE.

Maybe I am just thinking about this too much. Maybe the pressure is a good thing and maybe I'll fucking smash it out of the park and issue #5 will be awesome and none of this will matter. Maybe that guy who reviewed it is just hoping that if he submits in the future (he's a poet, too) that I will be more inclined to accept his offerings. Maybe I just need to learn how to take a compliment and stop being a fucking dick about the whole thing. Maybe.


  1. Maybe this is just me...but if I'm trying to get someone to do something for me, I don't do it by complimenting them. I genuinely mean my compliments. And from what I've seen of your zine, that guy was dead on.

    Keep in mind that saying you're good at being selective isn't exac buttering you up to be more accepting of his submission. Less, if anything. Sounds honest to me! Congrats!!

  2. I think the quickest and least painful way to deal with it is deflect with a facetious "I know," then very quickly counter with your own.

    "hey Jorge your hair's looking good today"
    "oh, i'm aware. you are a sparkly and lemon-scented man, Justin."

  3. I'm not good at dealing with compliments either. I feel like I have to compliment the other person back right away, or else I'm in some kind of compliment debt to them.

    From what I've seen of your zine, it does seem pretty cool. It can be hard when any opinions come in, good or bad, but if you are getting good reviews by doing what comes naturally then...I'd say keep doing that.

  4. Stealing sparkly and lemon-scented for all future compliment-returning situations.

  5. When someone compliments me I pretty much just mumble thank you and stare at my shoes until they leave.

  6. ughhh, stop being such a fucking dick, Martin. JUST ACCEPT THE COMPLIMENT ALREADY.