I’ve been thinking about how we take criticism. We all get treated to other people’s judgments, deserved or not. Sometimes we ask for a critique. Other times we don’t – and we get it anyway!
I’ve been seeing a lot of postings on the Net about critiques and what people consider harsh reviews. There was the episode, earlier this year, of the writer who committed review-icide over what she thought was unusually harsh criticism in a blog. Which touched off a firestorm of argument over three days and forced the entire discussion to be closed.
Mostly, writers post more gently, asking the usual why? Why me? Why this work? What do they not get about my writing? And, since I’ve recently enrolled myself in a website for receiving advance copies of books, and another website where I can post my thoughts on them, I have to consider how a book gets reviewed. What’s fair? What isn’t?
Even more important, how would I want MY book to be reviewed, when that happy day arrives? What does my writing say about me, since a person’s writing is inevitably a window on the writer? What do I want it to say?
What will your writing say about you? And how do you want to be remembered for your work?
Which brings the ultimate question: What is your writer’s epitaph?
(PS: The title for this blog post is the three titles hammered out on my weekend trip to Vermont. If I can’t decide, why not use all three?)
8 thoughts on “The Writer’s Epitaph? Suck it Up, Lest Ye Be Judged”
Tough Issue Susan Mermaid. I’m of the “never let them see you sweat” school of thought. If something bothers me, you’ll have to be in the inner circle to know that and I’d never post it on the Internet. The Internet is FOREVER.
But, I understand the need to react, to defend your work (much like a mama bear defending her young) but I do it with my friends (Skype and a beer is a beautiful thing) and then I let it go. But, it is hard and this business requires you develop a thick skin. You won’t please everyone – you just have to please yourself and hope that others will follow.
I have no idea how I’m going to handle reviews but I would like to think it will be with great grace and aplomb. And a fabulous pair of shoes! 😉
This makes me think of Peppermint Patty from Peanuts. Her philosophy goes something like this:
Is it going to hurt worse than a punch in the nose?
I’ve had great reviews, I’ve had some OK reviews (my own aunt only gave me three stars on Goodreads – but hey that’s my family we don’t hold punches), but luckily no nasty ones. That day is bound to come, however, so I look to Peppermint Patty for inspiration. Is it going to hurt more than a punch in the nose?
As to my epitaph how it would probably be: Just five more minutes, I’m almost done with this scene.
An interesting question. My answer would be tempered by the tone of the review. I must admit I don’t do well with rejection and a poor review would be the ultimate form of rejection. But I too would suggest, never let ’em see you sweat. My critique partner would be the one to hear me rant and rave.
It’s a great discussion. I think what a writer’s work says about them is that they created something out of nothing. Judging something like that should be done with as much care as possible.
I have received a few reviews for a story I wrote in an anthology for the old e-pub Linden Bay. Some were decent and made me smile while a couple of others stung. And they are still out there on the Internet, and maybe that’s the big issue here – a bad review or comment never dies. It is eternal. But the fact is some people aren’t going to like what you write. Or sometimes what you write may not be as good as something else they’ve read in the same genre (to them it’s not as good). But this industry is all about reviews and opinions and you can’t or shouldn’t in my opinion regulate opinion. I could go on and on…but when I publish I want everyone on the planet to love everything about my book … And I will cry if someone doesn’t love it, but I will rejoice, too. At least it was there for them to read…
The bottom line is you are never going to please everyone all the time so I think it is important to do your best and focus on pleasing yourself. Some people are going to love your work others not so much. I say roll with it and try to learn something from the comments. If one person says it…it’s an opinion. If you have multiple people pointing out the same thing then you need to rethink how you handled that. It may be too late for the book that’s published, but it’s never too late to learn something that may help your WIP.
Ladies, thank you so much for your comments and the discussion. I was in Vermont this weekend visiting my daughter and I truly appreciate your responses to a post that was flung together on my (ahem) new iPad in about 40 minutes. Didn’t I tell you already that I run my deadlines to the wire?
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