I met a lot of very interesting and lovely people at Dance is the Word’s opening session on Saturday. The day was led by Donald Hutera, dance critic for the Times, and featured Emilia from the Ballet Bag and staff from ENB, covering writing questions, giving us insights into working freelance, discussing blogging strategies and giving us all opportunity to talk about our dance background and what we wanted to gain from the course. I even got to work through some blogpost ideas in a group – really valuable and something that the lone blogger doesn’t often get to do!
One of the most interesting writing questions for me was concerning confidence and giving opinions. As I come from an academic writing background, I’m fairly confident in my own critical judgement and I think I can be very opinionated – and also willing to back up and discuss my views. This is of course in a thesis-writng context, and one of my worries is about translating this into a blog-writing, reviewing, journalistic context.
A good number of people expressed concern, not just in finding confidence in their own views, but about backing up negative opinion, and how to write about negative reaction to a piece. This is a very current concern for me, and I think something that is compounded by fora like Twitter, where it seems we’re all in contact with each other whilst not knowing anyone at all. Although I feel secure in making a value judgement on a piece, my query is around is how to express this properly, especially in a blog that is by its nature instantly accessible by anyone. I’d never be rude or destructively critical about anything, however I’m acutely aware of my position as an amateur writer in comparison to the well-respected practitioners I’m critiquing.
I guess the only way to find out what works is to write, and maybe make mistakes, and write some more. Just as judgement on dance pieces is instantly tweeted, reaction to your writing can be just as quickly fired off. It feels a little bit like entering into a fray, but hopefully a constructive, rather than a combative, arena.