Thursday, February 10, 2011

Pick, Pick, Pick

Yeah, this is me.

I actually had a different picture in mind - I was thinking more of that old Perdue commercial about people picking from a chicken over the course of a few days. (I am dating myself terribly - that was from 1985, y'all.) But you know what? Pictures of a plate of nasty chicken bones are really sorta gross.


No. I give you the weirded out cat.

Anyway, my neurosis is often a sort of compulsive urge to revisit the scene of the crime. Case in point - let's take reviews. My book came out a few weeks ago, and of course I've heard all sorts of advice - don't read the read the reviews...etc. etc.

So, yes. I read the reviews. The good. The bad. The ugly.

I don't respond to them publicly, of course. I might whine a little to my fellow word whores behind the scenes, but I still continue to look at them. In fact, I tend to reread them multiple times (especially the bad ones.)  It sounds like it would be a bit destructive, and maybe it is - but I've actually found that the more I read them, the less it stings. Eventually they stop hurting and I can look at them more objectively.

Of course I do the same thing with revision letters and CP notes. I don't know if it's one of those things where words have power or what, but it seems to be one of the only ways I can really process them. Maybe it's just a defense mechanism.

I tend to do it with other things in my life as well, particularly things that are hurtful. Sometimes it's blissfully numbing. Sometimes I do it in small pieces until I can absorb it as a whole for what it is.

Sometimes it backfires terribly and I obsess about it until even *I* realize it's not doing me any good. (And yeah, maybe there's a masochistic streak in me somewhere that likes the self-infliction of pain. Who knows?)

At any rate, I'm not sure if the review thing is good or bad, but I suspect I'm going to need to stop reading them soon, because I can totally see where giving them too much power doesn't exactly help the creative process of writing. In fact, I imagine it can give you a case of verbal paralysis - are you writing the story you want to write? Or are you writing a story you think will give you good reviews? The doubts come slinking in and they can be quite terrible.

But hey - look what I found!


  1. Overall, how are the reviews? Here's my review: I downloaded the book & less than 12 hours later I finished it. I've read it again since. The world is interesting, the characters are well-defined, & the storyline moves fast. I look forward to the next book in the series!

  2. @jeffe - LoL. Yeah, yeah. Snapping my rubber band.

    @angledge - LOL - Thank you so much. :) Overall, the reviews have actually been pretty good. I like the ones that go into more detail about what the reviewer liked or didn't like because it does help me discover what parts maybe could have been stronger. (If there's a common thread, anyway. Otherwise it's just personal preference and there's not really much I can do about that.)

  3. I still haven't read it, but it's on my TBRN (to be read next) list, LOL (Too many books, too little time!) I haven't had many reviews yet, but I hope I can look at them the same way I did rejection letters and critiques, with humor and without taking it to heart. I think that's the only way we can do this writing gig. Lots of chocolate too...or bacon. Hm, I haven't had bacon in a long time.

  4. The Millions just posted a thoughtful article on bad reviews. It's got to be hard to resist that temptation to respond. Even some big-name authors haven't been able to fight the urge to bitch publicly about them (I saw Jim Butcher go into a mini-meltdown on Twitter over a bad Amazon review), so you should be proud of your restraint.

    I will say that Publishers Weekly seems to be especially vitriolic; I've read some of their reviews for books I enjoyed and thought, "Geez, did this author run over their dog, or something?" Apparently I'm not the only one to think they judge a tad harshly (and by 'a tad', I mean 'to an insane degree')

  5. @Faith - it was a great article actually - I meant to talk about it in the post up above and I totally forgot.

    And yeah, PW pretty much hated BoD - and that's perfectly fine...I just wish it wasn't the first thing that showed up right there when you find the book on Amazon. >_<

  6. Yay on having a book to be reviewed at all!

    I saw the huffiness on both sides and can't quite figure out why everybody gets so worked up. So some authors hate some reviews as much as some reviewers hate some books. Seems fair all the way around.

    I'm slowly learning not to look at reviews. Now if I could just wean myself of the Bookscan...

  7. @Jessa, I agree. I do think with the anonymous screen in between us it's very easy for people to get worked up and react a little faster than they might face to face. Plus, it's also easy for a mob mentality to arise (regardless of whatever the issue is.) and things can spiral out of control.

  8. "A compulsive urge to revisit the scene of a crime"

    I think that's a healthy neurosis as long as your perspective evolves over time. It's one helluva way to learn things, but, hey, you touch a hot stove, you know it's going to burn when you do it again. Mebbe you do it less, mebbe you develop a high threshold for pain; either way, you're evolving.

  9. See. My problem is that by revisiting the scene of the crime, it gets cut into looped tape that plays forever in my head. There until the day I die. . . as far as I know, cause I haven't managed to shut one up yet. So I don't look at my reviews any more. My own personal, neurotic coping mechanism. Ya like it, or ya don't. Too late to complain about it now. The book is done and out. But that doesn't change the fact that I know I have a two star review out on Amazon by a guy who can't figure out why anyone liked the book. At least I don't know why he hated it.

  10. I can't remember any of the details, of course - but last year there was some buzz about a really bad review, and the authors wonderful response to it. The review was cutting and ugly. The author responded publicly, taking each point and turning it into a moment of humor. Reportedly it increased her sales significantly.

    That said - and knowing how I react to even loving critiques by friends and crit partners - I think when I get published I shall have to take Marcella's approach and just not read the darn things.