Last week I posted a revised list of my flaws and shortcomings. It was the third time I have revised and posted the list. You can read about the reason I began writing and posting the list here if you are curious.
Every time I post this list, I receive responses from readers that fall into three categories:
A tiny percentage of the respondents criticize me based upon the list, essentially using it as a means of attacking my character.
The rest of the responses, and the great majority of them, are split evenly along two lines:
About half of my readers question the wisdom of listing all my shortcomings and flaws for the world to see. They point out that many of the items on the list make me look quite rotten, and as a result, this is not the kind of thing I should be sharing with the world, especially if I want readers to continue buying my books.
The other half thank me for sharing the list, expressing appreciation for my willingness to be so honest and finding comfort in the knowledge that their flaws are not unique. As one reader said, “It’s such a relief to know that I’m not the only person in the world who can be such a stinker.”
At its heart, this is a question of sharing versus oversharing. With the exception of the few who use my list in order to attack me or make assumptions about my overall character, the vast majority of the readers who respond to the list seem to genuinely care about my wellbeing. Half of them simply believe that sharing this kind of information could hurt me, while the other half find the sharing of this information helpful to them.
As a result, I am left wondering how to feel.
Should I be concerned about what people (and potential readers) will think about me after reading the list, or should I be pleased that my list is helping people?
I’m not sure.