As writers, sometimes we find that we live and die by reviews. I have heard of some authors who receive a bad review and never write another word. If they do, they never release it to the public. Who wants to live like that? Not I, said the fly.
This brings me to this point of my warped thinking which often, unmistakable makes a good deal of sense. As a writer, author or blogger, you have to take each review with a grain of salt; even the good ones. I will tell you why.
As I was having dinner with a good friend, she told me she had read The Basement of Mr. McGee and mentioned she found a few things in it. I told her there are a few things in everything I write, I leave them in intentionally. I don’t need it to be perfect, I need it to be good. I want my readers to see the growth in me with each work. If it is perfect, then I have nowhere to go and a mistake when you are on top, feels really painful. It is hard to get back up.
However, there are times, when there are no mistakes and everything is as it should be. However, there are still some people who will take fault.
80 of 113 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Triumph of Mediocrity, April 8, 2001
By A Customer
Where are the gatekeepers? There is absolutely nothing here that I haven’t read before, in the eighties, by other trendy young women writers. They put an Indian stamp on it, and it’s supposed to be profound? These stories had no ability to evoke character or emotion, the prose style was unremarkable, the structure color by numbers. There was not a surprise or a genuine moment anywhere. A real effort to pander to trendy tastes, though, with unconvincing depictions of adulterous affairs, and so forth. Nothing new here, except for the color of the characters’ skins.
Pretty harsh isn’t it. There are 26 other reviews very similar to this one favored with a single, solitary star. Others were kind and rated the work with two stars and a bit of advice.
2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I like this book a lot less than everyone else does, February 15, 2012
The first story in this book is interesting. It’s about a couple who suffered through the horrible experience of having a stillborn baby, and this made the wife lose interest in her life and in her marriage. I was hoping for an upbeat, positive ending, but no, that’s not what this book is about. It’s about depressing endings. I kind of thought it would be.
Try for another baby, okay?
I read 3 or 4 more stories in the book, and nothing was positive about any of them. All right already. Life sucks. Thank you for telling me that. The last one I began to read opened up with a woman having an affair with a married man, and that about did it for me. I don’t want to suffer through any more of these depressing stories.
These reviews were written about The Interpreter of Maladies, a Pulitzer Prize winning work by Jhumpa Lahiri. It does not stop here. I found the same thing with The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. There are 46 one star reviews on this masterpiece about soldiers in the Viet Nam war. Even Jeffrey Deaver and Kurt Vonnegut received single star reviews.
You have to take some of these opinions with a grain of salt. Not everyone is going to like, love or get everything you write. If there are readers who feel that “The New York publishing cartel, the editors of the New Yorker magazine, and the Pulitzer Prize committee together run the risk of turning readers away from ethnic fiction if they continue to elevate unremarkable books like this above all others.”
If this is said about a Pulitzer Prize winning work, then adding a grain of salt to what people say about your works, will make swallowing their malarkey much easier. At the end of the day, write what you know. Write what you love and write because that is all you know how to do.
- A Pulitzer Winner Asks: Why Write Symphonies? (npr.org)
- Playboy’s Junot Díaz Profile Reads Like a Bromantic Love Letter (repeatingislands.com)
- *Heartbroken by ‘Angle of Repose’ (theprodigalkid.wordpress.com)
- With A Grain of Salt (themillions.com)
- Pulitzer prize-winning author Junot Díaz uses Rap Genius (YC S11) to creatively annotate his works (ycombinator.com)
- Rene Folsom Take Over (beanieboo78.wordpress.com)
- Interview with Pulitzer Prize and Georgia Author of the Year Nominee, Clifford Brooks (nwharrisbooks.wordpress.com)
- Five Ways to Become a Better Self-Published Author (danielottalini.com)
Last week, in one of the many groups I will swing by and make random comments, a statement was posted about writers block.
Use Image Searches Like a Thesaurus to Overcome Your Creative Blocks lifehacker.com. Creative blocks are extremely frustrating. They come when you’re excited to produce something awesome but can’t manage to find the necessary inspiration to do so.
In my, evidently incorrect posting, I stated that I did not believe in writer’s block. I said that writer’s block was a term created by people who had run out of things to say and that when a writer, pens themselves into a corner, in frustration, they say it is writer’s block. I further went on to add, that if the writer reevaluates where they are and what they are attempting to say, you can write your way into a good story.
Simply stated I thought. Again, I was wrong. Some random lady, felt she needed to correct me with a statement that says my statement was rather opinionated.
Lauren StarrI don’t agree with that Cheryl, strongly so, some may have no issues of writer’s block – but that doesn’t mean others don’t have that problem. With the amount of books written on the subject I’m afraid that you are in the minority. I’ve also had an author state that “there are no characters writing the story, it’s just the author’s imagination…” Frankly, I’ve spoken to many authors & writers that claim that they have characters that they argue with, that some try to change the storyline & that there is a large number that feel that way. So just because one person or a few believe something, that doesn’t mean it is true for the majority. I found your statement that having a writing block is equivalent to not having anything to say is rather harsh and short sighted. It’s also rather hurtful to those that may be going through it. Often I get a type of writer’s block – not from a lack of ideas or having nothing to say, but from the sheer amount that wants to rush forth. I don’t know where to start or which story to tell. That can cause a bit of a dam when it comes time to actually write. The words are there, it’s just drawing out the first sentence so that things will start to flow. I’ve known well known authors that have different kinds of writer’s block – so your statement is rather opinionated, as well as negative in its presentation towards those that are dealing with the condition themselves. Criticism is good as long as it is helpful and not harmful.
March 9 at 10:46am · Like Unlike · 1
I know right! I was amused initially and so I thought I would send back a smart ass comment to counteract the negativity, provide my background and shed some light as to why I wrote what I did. I even thanked her for the Republican response. It appears that someone else also agreed with her and liked the comment. She evidently did not like mine, because this is what she wrote back.
Lauren StarrNice of you to assume I’m acting like a Republican. I’m not one. I’ve also been a teacher, though that was many years ago. Being a teacher, even of english is no guarantee to being a good writer. Or even of teaching others to be good writers. But no one says it better than James N. Frey in his book, “Write a Damn Good Novel”. His opinion on teachers and writing is priceless, since he used to be a professor himself. You should check it out if you haven’t yet. I also do not know why you seek to prove your view as superior as you did. As Mr. Frey stated in his insightful book, “there are many ways to write.” I agree that there is no one-size-fits-all ideal or the profession would not be such a coveted position. I’m sure you’re proud of your recognition, local fame and achievements. That’s fine, though I see no reason to fan them out as a peacock tail. Since I don’t know you, I find it a bit arrogant. But then that’s my opinion, my viewpoint. Everyone has one, like them or not. But it is far more telling of one’s character by seeing how they react to the views of others, than in the words they use to seek to clarify their own views. Why does one seek to prove their own opinion is better or more valid than another’s opinion. What is there to gain? Personally, when it came to criticism, more often, I’ve found a child’s feedback much more interesting, honest and useful. It’s also much more welcome, than the same from those that claim to be “experts”. As they are experts of their opinion and point of view. No more or less than anyone else. Frankly, I’d no idea why you’d bet your PhD – In our present economy, it’s worth is somewhat questionable. When even doctors and lawyers are unable to become employed, I don’t see the point. Nor do I see the relivancy in making the bet. Sorry to step on your toes, but if you don’t like my opinion that’s fine. But don’t wave your resume at me to prove your opinion has more worth. It doesn’t.
March 11 at 11:20pm · Unlike Like · 3
I was doubly a smart ass, because I was one of the three people that liked her comment. Then I posted in the group this really neat photo. I am still laughing too. I am creating a blog post dedicated to her effrontery. I am going to link it to her blog, because I am a teacher. In this economy, I even have a job.
Here’s the rub my friends. If you are going to pick a fight on Facebook with a person, at least know who you are fighting. I came up through corporate in the 1980s. I only know one way to fight; that is dirty and to take you out. Since you posted your comment in a public group and a public forum, I can repost it. I am coming for you sweetheart. I am going to explain to you relevancy, although you misspelled it, and I am going to bet my PhD, that your silly ass won’t do this again.
- Writer’s Block: How You Got It and How to Get Unblocked (nwchristianwriters.wordpress.com)
- The Truth About Creativity (Also Honey Badgers and The Matrix) (dmmaster42.wordpress.com)
- Writer’s Block Cause 3: Not knowing where to start (nhwn.wordpress.com)
- Four Moments When You Should Never Publish on the Internet (dysfunctionalliteracy.com)