Thursday, June 26, 2014
A time to consider
Where it comes to reading reviews of my work, I have mixed feelings. There are times I'd think I'll never read a review again as they can be encouraging or devastating and like so many things in life-- the most negative is what I normally remember the longest.
An example of long memories: when I was in high school, not sure what year this was, one of my classes involved working for the high school health teacher and counselor. It meant typing, taking dictation, carrying around notes, and doing errands. It was, of course, also for grades as well as work experience.
This particular day, I walked into the Junior High on one of those chores and two of my brother's friends were with him as they saw me. One said, "Hey, Trueax, your sister is as ugly as you are." I pretended not to hear because what can you say to such a comment!
Now the irony is my brother was not remotely ugly, but that's not why I (and many like me) would remember such a comment. It's because someone is saying I was ugly. If i was a celebrity, I would never read comments under any article about me as some get the most joy out of tearing apart someone else.
Reviews for any creative work definitely fall into a place that anonymous can strike. How seriously should one take the words of a stranger where it comes to your painting, writing or any creative effort? Is it beneficial to read them? Might it help your work-- or hinder it?
Recently I realized I hadn't visited Good Reads for quite awhile (this is a place well known for snarky reviews for indie authors). I browsed through to see if my books had new reviews. One had several new ones.
Basically the complaint for this book came down to it being paced too slow. Evidently romance readers don't want slow growth of characters. It seems they want a plot to have something exciting every scene. (actually I thought this book did have exciting things going on but they were neither sexual nor violent so maybe they didn't count. If my books were regarded as literary works, the depth of development of characters, the slow pace as the story unfolds would be a plus. When they are romances, not enough is happening.
Recently I visited one of the romance writing sites that I had joined, I looked at the books that were out there and being promoted. I felt like there is no way I fit into that at all. One was about a serial killer where the first third person point of view was a young woman who was about to be murdered. The blurb indicated one of the detectives will end up at the killer's mercy-- doubtless she will be saved by the hero since she was a heroine. A lot was though-- definitely happening.
The thing is that's not the kind of book I want to read or write. I keep reminding myself-- writing is the joy. To thine own voice be true... but sometimes it can get depressing and I'd be pretending if I didn't address that now and again. Are we successful in our creative life if other people think we failed but we feel good about what we wrote or painted? Does what someone else think play into how good something is? I can think of films, the arty type, that didn't do well at all at the box office. Did that make them a failure?
Another writing site (this one at LinkedIn) had one author pose the question-- is selling important to you in writing? A well known writer had said it's writing that matters the most-- not the selling. But she happens to be a successful author.
Of course, all writers want to sell. Unfortunately it's not in their control whether critics or readers like the kinds of books they write. I can though, after a lifetime of writing, say that to me the most important thing is the writing. Whether I bring books out or let them stay on my computer, I will always be writing something new. I'll write more about the story I am currently working on, but it may never be ePublished as it's the last of the Oregon series. It's the series I have been debating whether to bring it out. It doesn't delete the worth of writing its final story-- Love Waits.
I have held off on those books because they relate to Oregon and are dear to my heart. If others tore them apart or rejected buying them, it might hurt more than with other books which I love but with which I don't have such a lengthy history. I mean if I put something out, it means I believe in it. I have no reason to do it otherwise.
J.D. Salinger went years without bringing more books out after his classic, Catcher in the Rye. Most believe it was because he hated the critics part of having his work torn apart. It's not too hard to see how he felt-- even if mine is not being torn apart by professional critics.
When I first got into ePublishing, I pretty well knew my books weren't likely to be immediately well-received. I thought of cycles in books and what readers want. I would put mine out and they'd be there someday for a reader to find who wanted my kind of writing. It's harder to let myself do that then I thought it would be.
Once upon a time we had a tea rose outside our bedroom window with a coastal type pine behind it. One freeze saw the apparent end of the tea rose, but the hardier root stalk came up with something new-- a red climbing rose. So we let it go. One year we realized it was climbing into the pine tree above it. We have let it be and this year it is nearly to the top of that 30' pine. They look so gorgeous together, so unexpected. Sometimes the unexpected is the blessing.