Thursday, May 5, 2011

Sticks and Stones...

It's every writer's nightmare- THE REVIEW. We hope for them, fret over them, then cry because of them. Very few writers (and I am not one of the fortuitous few) get glowing reviews.

Yeah, your mother always spit out that stupid, lame saying "sticks and stones can hurt you, but words never will." I'm not sure about that.

With the world gone Politically Correct crazy, everyone's afraid of saying the WRONG THING, even if it has a ring of truth.

Except critics. They can sear our souls, devastate our self confidence with a well honed cut. That's their job. Someone's got to do critiques the same way someone's got to empty the septic tank, or pick up dead deer off the road or remove a diseased limb. To us it may seem terrible, but it's a job that someone's going to do.

And, not to defend a gleeful critic, but get over it. You'll survive.

This classic children's book which has sold to many generations all over the world (I was never crazy about it) was described by Eyal Amiran from the University of California, Irvine as "strong schmaltz:" the book- The Little Prince.

His book was labeled "the usual fantasy storyline" with "some depth" and "emotional issues." Doesn't sound like an impressive book to me--except the book was The Lord of the Rings. Gazillions of reprints, movies, tee shirts, video games and what not later, it's still a best selling book. Who knew? Guess not the critic.

Tom LeClair from the University of Cincinnati nominated The Great Gatsby as "the worse novel in American literature." If it was so bad, then why the hell did I have to read it both in high school and several colleges?

Jane, a critic on the website Dear Author, writes"...I wonder how many people would have glommed onto the series after reading this mess of a story..." She was talking about the mega selling Twilight series.

After the enduring the heartbreak of rejection from editors and agents, now you have to suck up bad reviews. It's going to happen. Realize you can find a bad review for any author--from the Bible to Shakespeare to Dan Brown to Dr. Suess. And you can justify the dissing your book got by telling yourself, "They just don't get it" and I believe that. Anything by D.H. Lawrence gives me a headache because I just don't get why everyone thinks any of his boring tomes are a classic. Or, you can say "It was probably a guy/gal who read my story about a gal/guy and couldn't relate. I have to fess up that the Halo apocalyptic series leave me staring stupidly about, dazed from all the killing, maiming, and blowing up, and then shell shocked with the descriptions of all the weapons that kill, maim and blow up.

You can have a hundred reasons why the review was unjustified, unearned, unfair, unsympathetic, uncorroborated, yada yada. But look at it this way; you were NOTICED. There are some New York Times bestselling authors (and I know them but don't ask who), who never got reviewed. Maybe the reviewers thought the work wasn't good OR bad enough to waste their time to review. Ouch.

No matter what, you'll probably come across a bad review during your writing, performing, acting, or any other career where you invite people to express their opinion on how well they think you did what you do. It's part of the publishing game, and I tell myself that talent is in the mind of the beholder. Just because one critic doesn't agree doesn't mean everyone else will feel the same, which happens a more often than people realize. Rave and rant (quietly, in your home, with no one around to bear witness) to get it out of your system. Then keep on writing and promoting and signing your book.

Some of us will just love it.

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