A friend tried to give me a compliment a few weeks ago I took as an insult.

He said: “I read your works and think you have a gift for writing, even when I don’t fully get what you’re saying.” I cleared my throat, and he hastened to dig the hole deeper for himself: “I mean, I’m sure it’s good, I just don’t understand it.”

I understood what he tried to express–that perhaps my thoughts were lofty and complex, so intricately delineated that a cursory reading necessitated an incomplete understanding.

But my friend’s comment pointed out a failure of mine so great I could not accept his implied praise.

As a communicator, I seek to be understood fully and clearly, not give vague impressions of transcendent ideas. If that is the result of my writing–even if positive emotions towards me are engendered by my prose–I have failed at my task, quite simply and completely.

There is something to be said, of course, about the reader themself–their intellect, mindset, framework of perception, willingness to engage with said passage, and so on.

But the responsibility of writing something worth reading and understandable first lies with me.

And so it appears I have much to improve on.

(And yes, I may never learn to take a compliment or insult as intended by their giver. Is this bad?)

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