Off with Their Heads!

The Queen of Hearts.Some writers bear an uncanny resemblance to the Queen of Hearts. They’re illogical, absurd. If Lewis Carroll were to meet some of those writers, he might use his description of the Queen in reference to them. He says the Queen is a “blind fury.” She has no self-control. Every difficulty, no matter how great or trifling, is met with her well-known and oft-quoted phrase, “Off with their heads!”

Such writers have a limited audience, if they have one. Their propensity to make retorts and cutting remarks alienates them from everyone but their most dedicated fans. Even those fans may make an escape. It’s difficult to support someone who lambasts everything and everyone in his or her path.

It isn’t that writers shouldn’t have their own perspective on a subject or event; they should. They simply have to exert some self-control over their words and actions. They have to consider other perspectives. They must have a method to their madness. They should have specific reasons for not supporting a certain viewpoint.

I know it’s hard to write in that manner. I have a little bit of the Queen of Hearts in me. I sometimes read an article, and I want to scream, “Off with their heads!” I want to write and publish the first thing that comes to my mind. I’ve sometimes done that, and, nine times out of ten, I’ve regretted it. I’ve had to delete the post and hope that I haven’t offended anyone or hurt someone’s feelings.

Most of the time, I can keep my Queen of Hearts temperament under control. It’s taken practice. It’s taken the writing of a number of papers and blog posts. It’s taken having someone take me to task for not considering a particular angle. It’s taken embracing Wordsworth’s concept of tranquillity.

I also know, though, that anger sometimes is a legitimate response. I have to respond to what has made me irate. I have to write that angry poem. Does that make me the Queen of Hearts? Not necessarily. I think it’s possible to write well even when angry, but I also think it’s even more pertinent to pause after writing the angry piece. Time should be taken before hitting publish. The writer should evaluate the piece and his or her motives in writing it. It’s only then that he or she can hit publish and know that it isn’t being done in an “Off with their heads” mode.


  1. This is exactly why I’ve stopped reading Seth Godin. He’s a brilliant marketer, for sure, but his tone has been scolding.  And as my friend @webby2001 said once in a post, “I don’t cotton to scolds.” 

  2. This is exactly why I’ve stopped reading Seth Godin. He’s a brilliant marketer, for sure, but his tone has been scolding.  And as my friend webby2001 said once in a post, “I don’t cotton to scolds.” 

    •  @jasonkonopinski  You’re right. His tone has been scolding as of late. I used to read his posts regularly but not anymore. Perhaps the tone is the reason.

  3. webby2001 says:

    I’m no saint, but I’ve never regretted NOT insulting someone.

    •  @webby2001 I try to live by my mother’s rule regarding speech and, by extension, writing: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” The rule tends to keep me out of trouble most of the time.

    •  @webby2001 You do, I understand, make a damn-near legendary martini though.