Book reviews are great. Whether in The New York Times, Publisher’s Weekly, or someplace online, I love to read reviews. Back when I had time for such things, I read NYTBR from cover to cover. I read reviews for books I didn’t want to read. I’ve always wanted to be able to say to someone, no matter what title they throw out, “Hey, I’ve heard of that.” Part wanting to show off and part wanting to connect.
A bad review never turns me off from something I already I wanted to read, but a good sometimes gets me to take a look at books I never would have touched otherwise. Do they influence you?
But I never want to write one. Stories suck me in and steal my judgment. Every book I read is wonderful, and if it isn’t, then I know the author is trying really hard and who can say anything mean? Having written books, I know the effort and bits of soul that go into creating them. Slinging stones is not my thing. Of course, if you only write raves, you aren’t taken seriously (and for some reason this is bad).
Perhaps the day will come when one of my books will be out in the world and maybe, just maybe, it will get reviewed (nevermind how unlikely that actually is), and how will that feel? Silly to worry about something that is not happening, but it was on my mind as I did a public reading of sorts this weekend.
At the Thank-God-It’s-Over party for NaNoWriMo I read a scene from my novel. The readings were for cheerleading and support, not criticism (rightfully so) but it is no easy thing to put yourself out there. These blogs are the first steps to putting work out there (wherever there is) and while validation shouldn’t be necessary, it certainly helps. You can say that criticism isn’t personal, you can say you shouldn’t worry what other people think, you can sya a lot of things about the unfortunate and unnecessary need for validation, approval, adoration, or whatever, but I have yet to figure out how not to go blind when showing my work to somebody. Every time I read my work out loud, my vision narrows like looking through a telescope backwards and everything else is in a void.
But I’ve always had selective blindness–the kids who didn’t want me on the team? Didn’t see them. The man who exposed himself in an alley? Didn’t see him. The friends who came to help when my mother died? Didn’t even see them. Hey, when I was in the same room as kd lang, I dind’t even see her and there were only five people in the room. So, I guess, if you have something negative to say, put it on paper and I’ll never know. Paper? What paper? I don’t see any paper.