Barbed Wire by Doug Cooper: Feedback is (almost) always nice
February 21, 2014
I went to a bull sale the other day and received a little feedback from readers of this column. This is always interesting for me because writing a column can be a lot like putting messages is a bottle. You just have to hope that somebody finds the bottle and reads what's inside. Before the auction started, a field man from a livestock paper that I used to write for came over to visit. I had a column in that paper for years until I was fired by the publisher for making an influential person mad. Appropriately, the article that caused all the trouble was about how I didn't work well with others, referring to that phrase from grade school report cards. The field man told me that several people had thanked him for publishing my column again. That left him in the uncomfortable position of having to tell people that I wrote for the competition. Most of the livestock papers have similar names so it's understandable but I kind of hope the confusion continues.
Another rancher mentioned how much he liked a column that I wrote where I told about a cow kicking me. I am still not certain if it was my skill at writing or just the fact that a cow kicked me that he enjoyed. Probably both things appealed to him but there was something about the gleam in his eye that made me think he was hoping for a sequel where the cow kicked me twice.
Probably the strangest bit of feedback that I ever had was when a guy phoned me after I had written an editorial for a statewide newspaper. The very agitated and angry man claimed that I had misquoted him and accused me of various kinds of journalistic malpractice. While he was ranting, I brought up my editorial on my computer and realized I had never quoted the guy at all. Some way my critic had imagined himself into my article. I thought this was a little strange so I mentioned it to my editor. He said that it was nothing. He had once written an article about an unsolved murder and had a guy call up and tell him he had his facts wrong. The only person that could know those facts was probably the guy who committed the murder. Feedback is nice to have as long as there is enough room to get away.