Recently I discovered someone was blocking me on Twitter. Hardly an uncommon occurrence, one that happens all the time to most of us I expect, and one that rarely bothers me.

In this case, though, it was someone I ‘knew’ reasonably well, and I thought we got along reasonably well.

A few weeks earlier I’d even commented on their blog, and received a rather cryptic reply which included ‘I know we’ve had our differences in the past…’. That had me scratching my head because I wasn’t aware we’d had our differences in the past!

I let it go, but when I found out said person had also blocked me on Twitter, I just had to know why.
I’m not going to name this person because this isn’t a rant against them, and I still like and respect them, irrespective of whatever misunderstanding has occurred – rather, you could call this another rant against miscommunication.

So I asked a mutual friend if she knew the gory details of our ‘falling out’, because I certainly didn’t! As I expected, she did. Apparently, I had maligned flash fiction.

More head scratching.

‘I don’t recall ever saying anything bad about flash fiction,’ I said. And I’m pretty good at remembering the things I malign because, well, it’s usually deliberate. I have strong opinions, and I voice them. It’s not really in my character to forget those opinions. And I certainly don’t even have a strong opinion about flash fiction, beyond the fact I suck at it.

Vague niggle. Unless… ‘The only thing I can think I might have said is that flash fiction isn’t a story, it’s a blurb.’

‘That’s it exactly,’ my friend said.

‘But… that’s a commentary on my own inability to write it, not a derogatory comment about flash fiction.’

Which it is. I write epic and high fantasy, which is nearly always multiple, heavy tomes. In the space of flash fiction, I’m only just beginning to warm up. Sure, brevity is a good thing, but the skill-sets required to write flash fiction and the multiple, subtle plot-lines of epic fantasy are very different. I’ve tried my hand at flash fiction, and the outcome was pretty much – don’t bother. But I have a great deal of admiration for people who can write flash, for the very fact I can’t. I don’t much enjoy reading it, as it doesn’t occupy me long enough, but that does not prevent me from admiring the skill with which it is crafted.

What do you mean that’s not what flash fiction is…?
My friend assured me she’d had a long discussion arguing my defence with this person, raising all those points, to no avail.

Obviously the end outcome was blocking me.

Which all seemed a little silly to me. A simple private discussion with me may well have completely cleared the matter, and it hardly seems a blocking offence.

The funny thing (or not so funny, really) is a friend and I stopped talking for two years because of a similar misunderstanding. We both assumedwe knew what the other meant, didn’t ask, and after 15 years of friendship, nearly lost that friendship.

So I guess there’s a few things to take out of this:
  • I generally leave people in no doubt as to what I think about the things I disapprove of. If I am really going to whale on something, I won’t make one ambiguous comment about it. I do not stint in my disapproval. If I really disapprove of something, it’ll rate on this blog. You’ll notice there’s no flash fiction rant…
  • For heaven’s sake, if you’re not sure what I meant, or you think I was unfair in something I said, ask. I’m not all that unreasonable and I don’t bite. OK, I don’t bite most of the time and then usually only when the recipient deserves it.
Remember, miscommunication is the root of all evil.

If you missed it, check out my discussion of Discovery Writers in the context of A Memory of Light.

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