When a Rock and Hard Place Meet

Today was supposed to be a guest post, but due to unresolved creative differences, the post swap will not take place.  I feel like the parent who promised the kids a Disneyland trip and took them to the shoe store instead.  So, instead of reading another writer’s words (spinning on the Teacup ride at Disneyland), you’re gazing at another post by me (browsing the rows of shoes on display.)  Which do you like better – the wedges or flats?

The events of the last day or so have prompted me to do some thinking about writing.  As writers, we are faced with being true to ourselves, while taking care that our words are inspired by joy – not hate or negativity.  Even with care, it’s possible that our words may offend someone.  When the offense is brought to our attention, with no alternative presented, we are forced to evaluate them and decide:

1)      Do we modify or remove the offending material to satisfy the reader? or

2)      Should we keep the material unchanged to retain the integrity of the message?

I’m sure by now you’ve guessed that my potential guest post contained elements that the other person did not want on their blog.  I do respect their boundaries, and recognize that we all have different opinions about what is acceptable.  I tried to find a suitable alternative for the photo, but that was rejected also.  Based on the nature of the photo, an acceptable version doesn’t exist.  I did not agree with the second issue, nor could I find a viable substitution.  So that is where the rock and hard place come together.

Because I chose my creative message over censorship, I am now seen as “not wanting to compromise.”   According to Webster (my trusty dictionary) compromise means “a settlement in which each side gives up some demands or makes concessions.” 

Being that the person’s demands for change were never once modified, the only chance for resolution was my full compliance.  That is NOT compromise.  I’ve been married for fourteen years – I know all about compromise.  It feels like a night in Vegas after you win $50 and then gamble it away a couple hours later.  You lose what you gained, but had some fun in the process.

The benefit of this experience is that I have learned a few things:

  • Clarify any post rules/restrictions BEFORE accepting a guest
  • Communicate my standards to a guest before agreeing to host them
  • Allow a full week to swap and review posts to determine if they are a fit, and give time for any needed revisions
  • If differences cannot be resolved, it’s okay to walk away.  I don’t have to make changes I’m not comfortable with just because I already announced an upcoming guest.

Sandwiched between the rock (staying true to myself) and the hard place (others’ values) isn’t an enviable place to be.  But I’d rather be a solid mass, confident in my own words, than the air moving freely in between without any ties to the words I write. 


Lots of Beautiful Places to Get Stuck...



32 thoughts on “When a Rock and Hard Place Meet

  1. Desi March 2, 2011 / 6:29 AM

    I chuckled when I saw the shoes. Oh, well, hopefully you’ll be able to select what’s best and only best for your blog. And I think it would be interesting if you specify what are those “boudaries” and “different opinions” conflict but anyways, you’ll always have an audience over here. 🙂

    • jannatwrites March 2, 2011 / 6:50 PM

      I really did like the shoes. It makes we want to go shopping, but I won’t let myself go 🙂

      I was vague about the ‘offenses’ because I wanted to write about the dilemma and what I learned from an experience that didn’t happen as I had hoped it would. I didn’t do it to be annoying…I promise! Thanks for your support, Desi – I appreciate it…

  2. duke1959 March 2, 2011 / 6:42 AM

    Its not censorship when you are standing up for what you beliefs conflict with others. Remember that you have to live the choices you make.

    • jannatwrites March 2, 2011 / 6:53 PM

      This was just a case of two people having different standards of what is acceptable – an incompatibility that I didn’t recognize until this came up. I’ll still visit the blog even though the guest post didn’t happen.

  3. Tim Weaver March 2, 2011 / 7:34 AM

    Fight fire with fire: Publish it here.

    While I empathize, I would be stretched to call it “censorship” versus not meeting what they wanted to post on his/her blog.

    If someone posts something I don’t like on my Facebook wall, and I delete it, is that censorship? It depends on whether you are me or the person posting.

    If I write something you dislike a lot, and you delete my comment? Is that censorship? In this case, it isn’t, since this is YOUR blog and YOU make the rules.

    I am a moderator on an Internet forum and modify and delete posts and threads all the time. Posts that go against the board’s Terms of Service get immediately canned. Those that are judgment calls might survive, or they might get axed…depends on the person’s history, subject matter and my mood.

    But is that censorship? I don’t think so. It’s not their board (nor mine), so their appearance on the site is completely at the pleasure of the board’s owner. Some boards are more tolerant of certain topics or words, others less so, and some take these positions to extremes. At least you didn’t make some sort of First Amendment claim against the other blog owner, such as many forum rabble rousers try to do. That’s always amusing to watch.

    It wasn’t a compromise, but that doesn’t make it censorship. If anything, I think it showed more appreciation for your work than you might think…how easy would it have been to merely excise the offending line(s) and image? Would that have been preferable?

    Sometimes, shit happens.

    Now…would it be censorship if you remove that line or word, and this reference to it? 🙂

    • jannatwrites March 2, 2011 / 7:03 PM

      I’m not angry, and I certainly don’t want to ‘fight’ – this post was more a reflection on what I learned from an unfortunate situation. I see the ‘censorship’ debate as a matter of semantics. Perhaps it would have been more correct to state it was mandated self-censorship, because I was the one that was supposed to willingly make the changes. I do think the person has every right to hold standards for their own blog and I wouldn’t cry free-speech violation, especially on private property 🙂

      I do see deleting or modifying someone’s comment on my blog as censorship – I am filtering words to what I want people to see. If someone leaves a comment to tell me what an idiot I am and I delete because I don’t like it, that’s censorship. Of course, this is my opinion and others can disagree (and I won’t delete the comments :))

      P.S. I don’t know for sure, but I think editing a guest post without the person’s knowledge is a no-no. At any rate, I wouldn’t say that I’m offended – mostly baffled.

      Thanks for your thoughts on the topic, Tim. Oh, and did you notice that I left your tester line alone?

  4. pattyabr March 2, 2011 / 9:19 AM

    Shoes, shoes. Oy vay. I will probably write a blog about shoes as that is on my mind and I tried on at least 20 pair this past week. I can’t choose.

    Writing is for yourself, but if you have a fan following you are also writing for them. It’s a tough call.

    When in doubt flip a coin.

    • jannatwrites March 2, 2011 / 7:14 PM

      I’d love to read a post about shoes 🙂

      I like to write posts that I think are fun. I know not everyone will like all of my posts, but if I try to cater to what I think others want to read, I’m afraid I’ll forget who I really am. I guess if I do get too stuck, I can try the coin toss….it works for settling disputes between the kids 🙂

      Thanks for your comment, Patty!

  5. Hilary Clark March 2, 2011 / 10:18 AM

    The wedges. I’m vertically challenged, so I will always pick the shoe with at least a 3″ heel. 🙂

    Congratulations on staying true to yourself. And I’d love to read the post you wrote for the guest spot on the other blog.

    • jannatwrites March 2, 2011 / 7:19 PM

      Yay! You’re the first person to cast a shoe vote. (I liked the wedges – they just looked fun!)

      Thanks for your support, Hilary. It makes me feel a little better since I’m sitting here the loser of a no-win situation. I’ll just focus on the positive: I learned a few things, so it’s not a wasted experience.

  6. Carol Ann Hoel March 2, 2011 / 1:12 PM

    Good for you, Janna. Great to post about it, too. I respect your courage and your right to be who you are. Blessings to you…

    • jannatwrites March 2, 2011 / 7:20 PM

      Thanks, Carol. You are always so nice and encouraging. I appreciate your comment 🙂

  7. Tori Nelson March 2, 2011 / 1:15 PM

    I second Tim’s comment. Would love to read the post on your blog 🙂
    At the end of the day, saying NO to changing your voice as a writer is much more fulfilling than writing up (or mostly down) to someone else’s standards. You say what you say, lady! No need to compromise on that 🙂

    • jannatwrites March 2, 2011 / 7:24 PM

      I’m surprised that several people have commented that they want to read it. Or maybe it makes sense; the curiosity factor and all. I’m a bit concerned that it will be a let down, because I don’t think it’s that controversial. Or the alternative is that maybe I’m edgier than I thought. No. No, that can’t be it 🙂

      Thanks for your ‘sassy’ support, Tori!

  8. nrhatch March 2, 2011 / 1:58 PM

    Post it here! Picture and all. 🙂

    • jannatwrites March 2, 2011 / 7:26 PM

      Maybe I will, Nancy. Would have to change the post title and the thread throughout since it wasn’t my idea, though….

      As a matter of principle the picture and questionable text would certainly stay 😉

  9. widdershins March 2, 2011 / 2:17 PM

    pattyabr said … “Writing is for yourself, but if you have a fan following you are also writing for them. It’s a tough call.”

    … I dunno about that one. I have a small but growing (incrementally) bunch of critters who regularly read my blog, and I love the rush of reading comments, and check out my stats with glee, but apart from that …

    When I decided to start my blog I set it up with a very specific purpose; to be a platform for my writing, and every post is in some way connected to that purpose. (OK, the last one with the cute clay-mation figures dancing to La Traviata is a bit of a stretch, but I do like to break the rules occasionally, ‘specially my own!) … So I write TO that purpose, not FOR my readers (sorry about the capitals but I can’t underline or italicise) and by a process of natural selection I know that those who do read the post do so because they chose to, not because they know it’s for them.

    I’m not going to step outside that purpose and start posting about growing avocados. I’d start another blog for that.

    I guess the question begs though, is that would your guest post fit in with the purpose for this blog, rather than we are all curious about what heinous crime you were about to commit by posting it wherever it was going to go and want to know what you wrote 🙂

    • jannatwrites March 2, 2011 / 7:32 PM

      Your comment made me chuckle, Widdershins. Isn’t most of my writing a heinous crime? No, wait, don’t answer that. I really don’t want to know 🙂 I may just post it to satisfy everyone’s curiosity.

      I think breaking rules on content is fine and I agree with your view on writing and your readers. As readership grows, I imagine it could get difficult to accommodate everyone’s taste.

      I haven’t seen the claymation post, but I’ll stop by soon. I’m a little behind since I had an extra post to write. Thanks for sharing your view on writing and our audiences!

  10. Addy March 2, 2011 / 10:54 PM

    Hey Janna, I truly sympathize with you when you are now branded as the “uncompromising one”.. It feels bad when we get criticized for both- not putting our foot down enough or putting it down with the utmost force… We then become the “Bad Guys” so to say… Hope everything sorts itself out soon enough..

    Best Wishes,

    • jannatwrites March 3, 2011 / 9:19 PM

      Thanks for your support, Addy – you’re very kind 🙂 Sometimes life presents no-win situations and we just have to make the best of it. It all seems to be working out, though…but I’ll do a post about that 😉

  11. Cities of the Mind March 3, 2011 / 12:58 AM

    This other person should lighten up.

    Great Bryce Canyon pic, BTW. That’s a cool place. Sadly unclimbable but one can’t have it all, all the time.

    • jannatwrites March 3, 2011 / 9:24 PM

      I still maintain the other person has a right to hold up their standards. It just makes me feel a little like being turned away at the door of a popular club, that’s all

      I found the picture in Word’s clip art – it helpfully tagged it “rock formations” so I didn’t know exactly where it was. Thanks for letting me know, Connor. I have to say, we have some pretty awesome rocks (canyons) out west 🙂

  12. Debbie March 3, 2011 / 9:08 AM

    The wedges are cute, but you’d have to have lovely toes (with unchipped polish) for them to work, so I’m voting for the flats! You faced a dilemma with bravery, and you resolved it with your dignity intact — good for you! This kind of thing pops up now and then to test us; give yourself a pat on the back for passing!

    • jannatwrites March 3, 2011 / 9:28 PM

      Ah, you are a practical one, Debbie! The toenails are a bit of a problem, but I wear open-toed shoes anyway.

      This did feel kind of like a test, but I weighed my options and none of them made me feel like I aced it. I just picked the option that made me feel less bad 🙂

  13. SAS Fiction Girl March 3, 2011 / 3:48 PM

    I was surprised by this – I thought you were going to say that you declined someone else’s post – not that your post was declined. So, yes, my curiosity has been piqued, and now I want to know what you wrote that was so -gasp- objectionable! At least you know your regular readers are on your side. Well, I take that back. If your guest post was all about how Skittles are superior to M&Ms, then you’ve lost my support. 😉

    • jannatwrites March 3, 2011 / 9:36 PM

      I thought my writing was pretty tame, but I guess it turns out I’m edgier than I thought. I’m thinking of dying my hair purple now 😉

      Oh Jen, do you really think I’d pick fruity over chocolate??? I like Skittles, but M&Ms would win any day of the week. The only time fruity stands a chance is when it’s paired with chocolate (I’m hooked on these dark chocolate covered pomagranite pieces.)

      Thanks for your support – I appreciate it. My next post will have an update on the status of the not-guested post.

  14. Brown Eyed Mystic March 3, 2011 / 9:53 PM

    Flats All the Way! I cannot quite carry myself well otherwise–be it heels or wedges 🙂

    Love the way you brought this post out. I reckon you should post it here, after all. Would be fun to read. 😉


    • jannatwrites March 3, 2011 / 11:03 PM

      Ha! I learned something new about you today, BrownEyed. I have all different types of shoes because what I like depends on my mood that day.

      I’m glad you liked this post. Writing it helped me evaluate the situation so I could learn from it and move on. Tomorrow’s post will have an update about the non-guest post. Thanks for casting your shoe vote and sharing your thoughts – always love to hear from you 🙂

  15. Aligaeta March 4, 2011 / 11:56 AM

    I don’t know how I missed this post and there I was out of the loop. So, I took this opportunity to back track.

    First off, I don’t see the glamour in the ‘guest post’, I guess I haven’t been around long enough.

    But alright if thats what you and the other blogger would like to do, fine. However, if I were to ask you or anyone else for that matter, to write a post for my blog, I would only do so as I respect the writer’s work and judgement and therefore do so letting go of control.

    As my own blog, unlike yours explores subject matters and sometimes language that you might feel uncomfortable with I would never expect you to ask me.

    I guess what this brings me to is… if this blogger is uncomfortable to let go and let Janna, than it wasn’t meant to be.

    However, as in publishing, adjust to the standards if you want your work to be published with them.

    I trust you will find peace with which ever answer you come to. This has created a very provocative post.

    • jannatwrites March 4, 2011 / 4:00 PM

      I don’t think guest posts are glamorous, but it’s a fun way to “meet” new readers for a day. I think the idea is to gain exposure to different readers. I have been asked to guest only a few times, but have never extended an invitation for someone to guest here. I don’t know why – maybe it’s my shyness, fear of rejection or pressure I put on myself to try to write something “good”. It’s just easier to stay in my corner 😉

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Aligaeta.

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