The other day, there was a lengthy discussion in the comments section of Romancing the Blog on the "Mean Girls" and stream of snarky review sites, where poor author's books are smashed to pieces. Evidently, (I haven't seen one of these sites) tons of readers gleefully join in the fun, stomping the poor book into little bits.
Of course, there are hurt feelings. But, if there are readers joining in the fun ... um, aren't readers running out to BUY the books so that they can join in the fun???
Yes, I understand that it hurts. What can you do? A lot of commenters complained that some would-be authors were critiquing, instead of reviewing. Boy, get thee to a conservatory and learn the true art of dealing with criticism! Aside from the sting, we have to remember that the act of crtiquing and analyzing is very beneficial to learning the art of writing.
Personally, I find writing very humbling. I have a couple readers who are kind enough to email me and let me know my mistakes. I really love that. I really do. It doesn't hurt my feelings, although I don't know why. They're trying to be helpful, and I really appreciate it. I mean, how can I properly yell at myself if I can't find my mistakes? They're sure nicer to me than I am, when judging my own writing!
Funny enough, negative reviews aren't the only ones that get writers down. Tess Gerritsen recently read a wonderful remark the Los Angeles Times had made about her work, lumping her in with bestselling blockbuster types such as Stephen King, John le Carre, Dean Koontz, etc. She blogged about feeling insecure and like she didn't belong, in a post called "You Can't Possibly Be Talking About Me."
Let me check out my latest reviews: I growled at John le Carre's Mission Song, which irritates the heck out of me (although--if I'm to be entirely honest--part of it might be the fact that I feel stupid reading him, sometimes); I yelled at J.A. Konrath's Four Pack of Jack for killing a dog; and I got annoyed that The Nora--as much as I love everything she's ever written--can't hear rhythm in her rhymes (or did I forget to blog about that?).
All three writers are ones that I respect and ones that I read. I highly recommend them. It makes me wonder, would the commenters over at Romancing the Blog call me one of the "Mean Girls?"
I think I would LOVE that! Being "nice" is pretty darn boring. I'm so tired of being called nice and sweet. If I'm as snarky as the rest, then I really have to laugh.
Besides, I don't know about the other Mean Girls, but if only you could hear me review my own work! Boy, talk about brutal! Is anyone else brutal to themselves? Gosh, I beat myself up hourly. Strangely enough, it doesn't bother me. It kinda gets me all psyched up. I just snot right back to myself, "Fine! Well, wait until you see me do it better! I'll show you!"
And gosh, I read le Carre and I yell at myself, "It's like a fugue! You know fugues! Why can't you write a plot like this?" I read Konrath and yell at myself, "Hah! See, look at all those twists! When's the last time you twisted anything?!" And when I read The Nora ... dear heaven, I have to hold back there. She makes me shake my head and think the one thing I don't allow myself to tell myself!
And maybe that's where the line should be drawn in reviews, too.