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Open Thread

The Best Story Comments You’ve Ever Received

We asked, you shared. Here are 12 great comments that stayed with writers long after their stories were published.

Photo by Giulia May on Unsplash

In our most recent open thread, we asked “What’s the best comment you’ve ever received on a story?” We got some fantastic responses back from writers — comments that ran the gamut from funny to motivating to poignant. There was even one about a story inspiring a tattoo.

Here are a few highlights we thought you might enjoy. If you have a memorable comment you’d like to share, add it in the responses here!

Finding unexpected support.

I wrote a Medium piece on the lies we tell ourselves as writers — lies about what equipment or education we need, why we can’t write on a given topic, how we’re too busy to write, etc. The same day the piece was published, I received this amazing comment: “This is one article that I would love to see go viral. The brilliance is staggering.”

I thanked the author for his kind words, but this comment meant more to me than even he realized. What made it so special and humbling was that I’d had an absolutely terrible week in which several things I’d written had been rejected. I was frustrated and ready to step away from the whole writing thing for a while. This comment erased those negative vibes and reminded me that I needed to reject the biggest lie of all — that I can’t succeed as a writer.

from Diona L. Reeves

Getting the details just so.

“Is that TRUE? It IS, isn’t it? You couldn’t make that up. Too many details ring true. C’mon, you can tell me. That really happened, didn’t it?”

For my my kind of noir fiction, I consider that the highest possible praise.

from J.O. Manning

Discovering new writers.

I love when responses lead me to discovering new writers. I had this lovely comment on an essay I wrote about walking: “Love walking. It’s a meditative and spiritual experience, and a good way to really get to know a place. I enjoy walking in cities, although I prefer remote rural landscapes. As a long term project, I’m slowly making my way around the coastline of Britain. 10 years, and I’ve reached the northwest of Scotland, but sadly Covid has put a temporary halt to my roaming.” I was fascinated by this so clicked on the profile and discovered the writer Ruth Livingstone — herself a lovely writer! I ended up publishing her piece about living in a windmill into Human Parts, and I still think about this piece probably once a day.

from Amy Shearn

Paying it forward.

I received a comment a month or so ago from someone who said they hadn’t written in months and had just about given up trying to freelance until they read my Medium article.

They actually thanked me for giving them inspiration/motivation to keep trying. So satisfying to hear I’ve helped someone in that way.

from Meg Stewart

Strange serendipity.

First response, best response: my first Medium piece was an autobiographical essay about NYC in 1981. I got the following reply from a man who’d stayed in the same building five years before. He also got to know Jeff, the super-eccentric building superintendent.

“Dear Mark, I am Alain, French, living in Nice, France. During the summer 1976 I was kind of a young musician backpacker tripping in NYC. I don’t remember how but I stayed in Jeff’s home for about 2 weeks. Today I made a search on google about the name Jeff Riedel and I found your text. All you say is extraordinarily exact about this amazing person. So I want to thank you for the help you gave to my memory. All the best. Alain”

from Mark Coleman

Tattoo takeaways.

The best comment was a tattoo of the story. Actually, numerous tattoos of the story, from people I’ve never met.

Years ago I tried out a story format of pairing an illustration with a short essay going deeper into the ideas behind it. I didn’t get much engagement from the posts, but then sometime later I started getting responses and messages on one of them. The ideas in the post connected deeply with readers, so much so that they wanted to get a tattoo of the illustration. To this day I’ll get responses, emails, and DM’s about it. I’ll receive photos of the tattoo. What moves me most is hearing stories of what resonates about the piece. The ideas in the post help people navigate challenging moments of transition and growth in a caring and compassionate way. When I hear these specific experiences, I feel thrilled that my words and illustrations can be so deeply supportive.

from Kawandeep Virdee

Laughs when they’re needed most.

I wrote an essay entitled, “Viking: Where Romance Goes to Die”. I received the following response along with an emoji of her laughing.

“Hello Liz,

Me reading your latest blog! LOL

You have no idea how much I laughed. Something I haven’t done for some time.

My 30 year old daughter, Larissa, died suddenly at the beginning of April, 20 days before her 31st birthday. I haven’t felt like laughing since then. She had had a heart transplant at age 19. All has been good since that time, fine, but — apparently it wasn’t in spite of a complete cardiac work up two weeks before her death. Sudden rejection syndrome; something that can happen to people with heart transplants. Everyone at the Heart Institute in town was shocked beyond belief. Her father, sister and I are getting used to a new normal without her. There were over 400 people at her funeral. She was well loved.

All to say reading your post had me laughing like I haven’t in some time.

Thank you Liz for that, sending a hug and a giggle.”

from Liz Kitchens

Creating connections.

I wrote a vulnerable piece about my brother’s battle with schizophrenia, and how everyone, including his “friends” abandoned him. I received this comment from a man, who touched my heart and reached out a helping hand:

“I cried while reading this story because I am like your brother. The bad news is Ive been dealing with this my entire life, and I am 52.

The good news is that with medication and therapy, where we learn skills to cope, we can have a life. I battle my voices daily for control and though brutal, it can be done.

My email is in my bio. If your brother ever needs a friend, he can email me.”

from Tracy Luk

Finding that just-right reader.

The best comment I ever received on a story was a comment on a short piece I wrote a long, long time ago. It was about an owner, a young man bound for graduate school I think, feeling he was forced to put his five-year old dog Bailey down because he couldn’t find anyone who could give her the kind of care and exercise he did during his morning five mile runs. I went with the couple (I drove, they ran), and documented Bailey’s “last run,” before this happy, friendly golden retriever was scheduled to be euthanized. The mail and phone calls that poured into the news room after “Bailey’s Last Run” appeared in the Wednesday feature section were overwhelming, but the best comment was one from an older man who wrote, “I don’t like dogs. I have never liked or owned a dog, but I fell in love with Bailey and her story. I want to adopt her.” If a simple story could change a heart, it was one of the best story I have ever written.

from beckyblanton

Writing for an audience of one.

I always remember this part of a comment I got on the 4th piece I ever published on Medium:

“I printed out your ‘Five Qualities You Need in A Partner,’ gave it to my husband to read, and invited him out for dinner to talk about it.”

This was the first comment that really made me realize that I could sit at my desk and connect with people I didn’t know through the power of words. It gave me hope that I could positively affect others’ lives, maybe I could even help. And it made me decide that as long as I reach one person in a significant way with each thing I write then I never have to doubt that the effort is worthwhile, regardless of how much or how little each one generates.

from Jennifer Haubrich

Lightening the mood.

Oh man, so many good, bad and ugly. This one certainly added some levity.

I wrote a piece about how there has been a sharp decline in bugs being killed by cars in recent years, despite massively increased numbers of cars (Short version: improved aerodynamics roll the bugs over the car instead of splatting them).

A reader left this response:

“Years ago I worked with a guy who told me of a time he got pulled over for speeding.

The cop asked him if he was in a hurry and he said no. He then asked why he was speeding. My co-worker said it was too embarrassing and to just give him the ticket

The officer insisted, saying he had heard it all.

He hesitated, then said, ‘there was a grasshopper on my windshield and I wanted to see if I speeded up how long he could hold on.’

The officer laughed and said that was a new one…and let him off with a warning.”

from Sean Kernan

Traveling halfway around the world.

The best comment I ever received was on a poem I wrote called, Winter, which I wrote and published in the POM two weeks before Winter ended.

It was chosen from further distribution the first or second day of Spring which led to this comment from a reader:

“I’m not sure why was this poem recommended to me in April. But I like winter, so I clicked on the ‘Winter’.

I kid you not, I live in Scotland, and as I started reading it, I looked from a window and it was snowing…

Yeah, I like winter, but in April I’d do with only your ‘Winter’ enough.

BTW, I liked how you engaged all of the senses in your poem.”

I loved this comment for two reasons:

1) My poem reached Scotland! I was so incredibly amazed and humbled and honored and happy my work made it to Scotland.

and

2) Not only did it make it to Scotland, we (my poem and I) made it snow there.

OK Ok. I know that’s probably not the reason why, but it makes me feel like I have magical powers.

from Jehan Senai Worthy

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