Your Work is Crap! Will You Be My Friend?

So I put up another book review over at The Horrifically Horrifying Horror Blog, which Ms. Audsley so graciously allows me to do because, well, she’s just a generally awesome person is my guess. Here’s a link to it, because I’m vain and self-promoting, but also because Emma’s blog is a great multifaceted horror site and you really should take the time to explore it.

I enjoy the review writing. The free books are a plus, for sure, and it helps me maintain something of a coherent writing schedule when my personal creative river isn’t flowing. I also won’t deny that my ego swells when people leave comments and rate what I write. But to be truthful, it’s kinda nerve wracking sometimes, knowing I’ve said some negative things and that those things are going up for all the net to see. I know, I know, reviews must be honest if they’re to showcase any kind of integrity, but I still can’t shake the feeling that I’m being a jerk to someone on a deeply personal, private level. Stories are instances in which someone has bared their soul, and here I am, some random goblin at a keyboard, tearing into their sweetbreads as loudly as I can. I can’t help but worry that, well…honestly, I worry that I might hurt someone’s feelings.

Is that childish? Maybe. I guess. I dunno. Kindness and niceness are two extremely important concepts to me. Don’t misjudge, I give people the finger sometimes and I’ll shout back if someone gives me a hard time, but if I interact with someone who has done me no harm, I try to consider them a good person until I know otherwise, and treat them accordingly. And though any writer worth her or his salt knows that reviews are, generally, not a personal form of attack…still, I worry sometimes.

One thing I do to avoid this guilt is ignore the author’s name until the review has already been written. This can be nigh-impossible with a novel unless I’m careful, but with anthologies it’s a piece of cake. It may not make much sense, but if I’m criticizing a story with no knowledge of the author, it just seems, like, fairer, you know? Now, I may do some quick research on the writer to see if any personal experiences may have tied into the work, but if I do that, I do it only after I’ve set my opinions down and affirmed to myself that I will stand by them unless a presumption of mine is directly contradicted by concrete information. Does that make sense? It does for me, anyway, so I guess that’s what matters.

I wonder how I’ll react if the day ever comes when my work is criticized. I’ve had positive reactions from some people to what I write, but I’ve never had any real, hard-nosed “this could be better” style criticism. I know I have flaws in my writing, and honestly, I think it’d be refreshing to hear someone say “this story sort of stinks” to me. I mean, how can something become better if no one’s willing to break it down?

Anyway, there are kids selling stuff for school in the neighborhood, and I’m pretty sure that’s them who just knocked. Maybe I can assuage my guilt by overpaying for cheaply printed kitten calendars.

…yep. Worked like a charm. Dawww, this one’s dressed like a little cowboy, you guys!

 

-          The Awful Writer

1 Comment

Filed under Miscellaneous, Ramblings on Horror

One response to “Your Work is Crap! Will You Be My Friend?

  1. Ha! Hilarious. I have occasionally reviewed ebooks on Goodreads, written by people I at least virtually know, and it is RIDICULOUSLY DIFFICULT, because, like you, I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings–but I also feel the need for some integrity in my critiques. I still haven’t figured out the balance . . . I think you’re right that “everybody knows” a review isn’t personal, but that doesn’t stop it from FEELING personal when you get a bad one.

    That said, I once got an envelope of fan-mail from a classroom of fifth graders who had read my novel, and almost all the letters were highly complimentary, but my favourite one turned out to be the one that began, “Dear Ms Grosser, I think if you decide to write another book, you should never write another book.” I love when people DON’T toe the party line. :-)

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