Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Gratitude, not attitude.

I am blessed. Not only do I have my health, food, comfort and most of my marbles, but I have been granted the chance to chase after my dreams and be a writer. One whose words are actually read by other people. That fact is source of constant amazement to me, and I am grateful for every person who has read my work, even the ones who didn't like it. So before I wander any further down this meandering post, thank you. Thanks for reading this. Thanks for reading any article, book or tale I have ever crafted.

(and now, back to the point.)

There's nothing here about letting the author call you names for not loving their book.

That's the thing about being an artist, or anyone who creates anything. The entire goal is to create something and then we have to let it go out into the cold, brutal word, and there's nothing we can do to protect it, or ourselves, from the critical assessment of others. There's a certain kind of insanity present in every writer (well, there's lots of different levels of crazy, but that's an entirely different post or ten.) because in order to be successful at what we do, we have to invest our heart and soul into something and then present it to the world so they can tell us where we screwed up. That's the job description. Thin-skinned people be warned, you are either going to have to find some armor or be prepared to invest in therapy, because the only one who is guaranteed to think you book is you. Everyone else is going to have their own opinion.

And this is where things get tricky, because no one, no matter how talented they are, will get perfect reviews.  Readers know this, and most of them take reviews and ratings with a grain of salt. It's a small, ugly handful of writers who tend to get their panties into a bunch and start calling on the seven plagues of Egypt to land on the doorstep of those dare to publicly declare their dislike for a book. They take every review like a personal attack, and defend their writing like a mamma grizzly bear. Currently there's an author on Amazon who is replying to every critical review with teeth, claws and suggestions that the reader was simply too stupid to understand the intricacies of her story. That is is not her work that is flawed, but the people reading it.

A few weeks ago another author took to her blog to decry the unfairness of the writing world, for while her intellectual, meaningful and deep writing had been met with indifference, her erotic romance had become extremely popular. Did she rejoice in her success? No. She lamented that she had to dumb it down and sell out in order to make it as a writer, accusing the very people who had bought her book of being too stupid to understand her earlier works. She later claimed that the entire post was satire, but I don't think her reputation is going to recover anytime soon.

Helicopter parents are the ones who swoop in and whisk their child away before they can be exposed to anything negative, and now we have helicopter authors, diving in to rescue their beloved works from the unwashed masses who simply don't understand the author's brilliance.

The handful of authors that are behaving badly don't speak for the rest of us, and I if you are interested I have a long list of friends whose books I can recommend, and not one of them will call you names if you don't give them a five star review. They'll just be grateful you read their book.