Much ado about fuck-all (with Karen Scott)

20 Oct

I pay dearly for my weaknesses, particularly my curiosity.

During a recent post discussing LLB quitting blogging, Throwmearope mentioned how it’s become sorta the “in” thing to do. Quit then come back. Quit then come back. Quit… well, you know, like Cher or Michael Jordan: lather, rinse, repeat.

And that brought to mind author Tess Gerritsen and her earlier epic flounce.  Some of you may remember that she felt overwhelmed by the meanness. Then again, some of us readers felt rather unimpressed by the whole “if you are not a writer you have no call to write a review because you just don’t understand writing that she espouses in her blog (yeah, I’m paraphrasing—sue me).

So, since curiosity is my besetting sin, I wandered over to TG’s blog to see how that “not blogging” thing was going. Imagine how utterly unsurprised I am to see that she’s back to it.

Ah but the goodness doesn’t end there, no siree! Following a recent link, I found this little pearl of wisdom over at Murderati: Can a bad review kill your career?

And Ms Gerritsen categorically replies, “Yes.”

Worse, the evil internet just gave an opportunity to the mean people to spew their bitterness and envy to everyone, and preemptively kill the newbie author’s career. Because bad reviews can mean no order from big chains, Walmart, CostCo, etc.

Wow, aren’t we humble reviewers powerful, huh?

But wait, wait! We can also destroy the careers of established icons such as Stephen King and Ms Gerritsen—because of the hurt we cause them.

Yes, people. Bad reviews hurt authors. How dare we hurt people we don’t know! And worse, when we ourselves haven’t sweated blood over our mind babies!

But what is this I see?

Oh no, no, my mistake! It’s only reviews like PW’s that can destroy careers and hurt writers’ sensibilities. We ignorant amateur reviewers can only make them stop blogging. (Or give them fodder for long diatribes, depending on their character)

Okay, that was catty and petty and mean. Glad to get it out of my system.

Here’s the thing, though. I don’t write reviews for writers, I write them for other readers. Yes, writing a review puts the writer’s name and book title out there for people to be aware of, which hopefully will translate into sales and benefit the author. But that is not the main reason for reviews. Reviews are written to share a reader’s view on a book with other readers.

Further, a bad review and a negative review are not the same thing.

A review that says “buy this book, highly recommended!” is as bad as a review that says “this book sucks, should have never been published”

A review that says, “I didn’t like this book; I found the writing/the editing/the plotting/the dialogue/the characterization to be terrible; I wanted to shake some sense into the characters; had a scene/plot device that drove me up the wall” is not a bad review.

But you know what? This is not about reviews. It’s about maturity. You know that whole, “If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen”? It would seem that someone who cannot take any criticism of her work without internalizing it into being about her should try harder to avoid learning of said criticism.

You know, don’t have google alert you every time your name is mentioned. Don’t go trolling Amazon for reviews. Ask your friends, publicist, agent, what not, to refrain from sending you links to reviews.

Or grow some thicker skin.

Karen’s Thoughts…

My thoughts on the matter? Pathetic. Absolutely pathetic.

Tess is either a manic depressive, or a huge fucking drama queen. I vote for both actually.

As a cyber-pal commented the other day, she seems to be the kind of person who’d take to her bed if she broke a fingernail. Harsh, I know, but seriously, come on, she’s as big a wimp as I’ve come across in Blogland. Her problem is, she wants to be universally loved as a blogger and a writer.  Somebody should tell her that that’s an ambition that’s bound to go a bit Pete Tong.

Like I wrote over at Murderati, reviews can’t end a career, only the author has the power to do that.

If you put your work out there, then you’d better be prepared to take the negatives as well as the over-the-top adulation, because no matter how good a writer you are, not everybody will love your work. What’s so difficult to understand about that?

By the way, I’m pretty sure the blog moderators will remove my comment sooner or later, it seems that they’re all about deleting comments that they don’t quite approve of.

Some guy called Jim asked the question as to why Tess keeps writing when she clearly seems to get no enjoyment from doing it. His comment was removed. I wouldn’t mind, but he wasn’t even trying to be a smart-arse.

When Tess recounted the story of the blood and sweat she’d sacrificed during the writing of The Bone Garden, only to have some reviewer absolutely go to town on it, I laughed out loud.

I recall thinking that The Bone Garden was the most self-indulgent book I’d ever come across. No wonder the reviewer skewered it. I actually like Tess Gerritsen as a writer, but TBG was nowhere near her best work. I always felt that she was trying to be a little too clever in terms of her execution, and somehow, she wasn’t able to bridge the gap between information dump, and the formation of a cohesive story. I’m a simple gal with simple reading tastes, so trying to keep up with the goings ons within two different time periods, and trying to work out who the perp was, was so tiring, it took me nigh on three months to finish the damned book.

Anyway, I digress.

Apparently this particular review was the worst in her twenty-one year writing history, and it affected her so much she wrote in a cloud of depression afterwards. Sigh.

Now I realise that writers and other creative types feel that they have the market pretty well cornered when it comes to being bombarded with criticism, but for fuck’s sake, this is no different to being told that your performance sucks in a regular job. You either tell your employer to go stick their job, or you man up, and do better.

Anyway, the asinine comments weren’t just restricted to TG, some of her fawning peers also put the ass into assholic. Here’s an example:

It seems that some reviewers find it more enjoyable (for themselves) to see how nasty they can be. The bigger the author, the nastier the review, just to get attention for themselves. “Oh, wow, you really took on famous XYZ author.”

Yeah, I’m sure that’s exactly how it is. It can’t possibly be because the reviewer thought the book sucked arseholes.

This next comment annoyed me no end:

But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.

What an absolute crock of shit. There are plenty of reviews out there that are probably better written than the work they were analysing. Not every author who gets a book contract is a great writer, that’s just a sad fact of life.

This comment from some chick called Eva made me want to gnaw my own arm off:

The more you get famous (and you are very famous !) the more some reviews will be brutal and humiliating. These reviews tell us more about the reviewer’s soul and state of mind than about the quality of the reviewed book. It is the old adage of conceiled (or maybo not so well conceiled) jealousy …

“These reviews tell us more about the reviewers soul and state of mind”? Is she kidding? So a negative review has nothing at all to do with the fact that the reviewer possibly hated the book, and everything to do with the reviewer being a jealous hag? Really?? Oooo-kay then.

The same commenter went on to add:

“So please just keep writing and do not stop. Your readers are more important than your reviewers.”

Here’s me thinking that reviewers were readers too.

Listen, I know authors who dread, absolutely dread getting a bad review. I know authors who feel like the world has ended because somebody said their book sucked, and I sympathise up to a point, but it’s not my responsibility as a reader to make the author feel better about themselves. It really isn’t.

In my opinion, authors who think that people who review their books should consider their feelings need to get a huge fucking grip.

At the time of the Tess Gerritsen/DA Lovefest, I didn’t really get why a post on a reader blog, would lead her to want to take her toys home in a snit. I mean, she’s a best-selling author for fuck’s sake, she doesn’t need to prove anything to anybody.

My advice to Tess would be to grow a pair, otherwise she’ll spend the rest of her life on medication, wondering where her dangling participles went wrong.

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