Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Fragile Ego of The Writer

Happy Easter, folks! May all your bunnies be solid chocolate.

First of all, I have a lot of news for this post!
  • All my books are free on Smashwords through April 15th. Remember, Smashwords is where you can get your ebooks in any format for every kind of electronic reading device. Just click on the Smashwords link at the bottom of this blog and enter the coupon code displayed on the right.
  • I'll be featured this week on Julie's Book Review as part of a month-long blitz featuring reviews, interviews, and giveaways by various authors. Check it out starting April 1st and enter for a chance at some cool prizes! (Also, you'll get to read about me! Always a treat, right?)
  • A cool new website is launching Monday, April 1st. www.ultimatefantasybooks.com is all about Paranormal, Fantasy, Dystopian, and Romance books. It will feature competitions, author interviews, and all kinds of other cool stuff even yet to be thought up by its creators. It also features an alphabetical listing of authors where you can view their books, bios, links to purchase, and places on the Web to connect with them. (Ahem. Yours truly is on the list, of course.) You gotta check it out!
Okay, now on to this week's ramblings...

    A few weeks ago I was witness to a status posting on Facebook that kicked off a series of responses lasting an entire weekend and running the gamut of emotions from tearful despondency to red-faced outrage. Like many “issues” that surface on FB, this one was fraught with as much misunderstanding and mud-slinging as a Jerry Springer episode, and throughout I held my nose in the air with self-righteous indignation, telling myself I was above it all.

    But, of course, I got sucked in anyway.

    Here’s what happened, in a nutshell…
    An author made a series of negative comments via Twitter about Red Tash’s paranormal fantasy novel, Troll or Derby. Tash responded. The situation escalated as others got involved. I’m not going to share any of the gory details here, because who-said-what is not what I want to talk about. What made such an impression on me was just how deeply one author was affected by another’s criticism.
   Here’s the deal…
   Red Tash has some serious writing skills. Okay, that’s my opinion, I know, but one that I share with a lot of other folks. At this writing Troll or Derby is at #2 in the Dark Fantasy genre on amazon.com. It has fifty-seven reviews with an average reader rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars. (You can click on my April blog archives to see my own 5-star review.) Ahem. That’s pretty damn high, slightly higher than Hunger Games, for instance.
    I figured if I was Red Tash, and I had that much positive feedback on my novel, and that high a customer rating, including a 5-star review from John Hundley himself, any negative comments would roll off me like water from a duck’s back. Come on, Red, give yourself a break!
    Then I started thinking about it with my heart instead of my head. Empathy kicked in, and I got it… completely.
    If you ask a writer why they write, ninety percent of the time you’ll get the pat answer, I love to write. That’s certainly true, at least on some level. I mean, it’s the answer I usually give. But if that were all there was to it, we’d just happily type away on our keyboards, dictate into our voice-to-text software, or scrawl across parchment with our quills, cranking out nonsense sentences or random phrases without a care as to the quality of what we produced.
    It ain’t like that.
    At some point every writer wants at least to look back over what they’ve written and be pleased. A smaller percentage will timidly present it to a friend to see what they think. Those with bigger balls will think about publishing.
   And then there’s the novelist. Crafting a written work of over 40,000 words (typically 100,000 to 175,000) is a long-range project that involves outlining, writing multiple drafts, editing, re-writing, and all manner of blood, sweat and tears. Even the most prolific author rarely produces more than one novel per year. That’s a significant amount of one’s life spent carefully monitoring plot lines and nursing relationships with a specific set of characters. It’s very easy to liken a just-finished novel to the birth of a child. Your chest swells with pride as you present it to the world.
   And someone says, “That baby’s ugly.”
   When I cautiously gave my second draft of The Draculata Nest to a friend for feedback, I got a voice mail message the next day saying she thought it was “really good.” I was on cloud nine for days. It took lots more of that sort of ego massaging for me to get up the nerve to publish it, and yet after months of editing, cover design, formatting, etc, I still hesitated to hit the upload button to make it available on Amazon.
   Each sale sent my heart soaring and then when a day or two would pass without one I would be despondent. I would be delighted to see a new 4 or 5 star review appear and then fall apart at the one negative comment embedded among the accolades. Some of that was good, because I took the constructive criticism and wrote a better sequel; but I’m not sure the emotional agony was worth it. Eventually, I got the inevitable 3-star review, followed by the inevitable thoughts of giving up writing entirely.
   Yeah, Red, I get it. The negative comments hurt. And, if you’re like me, you’re hard enough on yourself already. The last thing you need is some hack trashing your work. But I bet even Shakespeare’s rotting bones tremble whenever some poor ninth grader who’s forced to read it mutters, Hamlet sucks.
   So come on, Red. Feel the love. There are plenty of us who are ready to strap on skates, take up residence in the local landfill, or maybe just show up at your house to watch Adventure Time!

   Okay, that's all I've got this week. Remember, my books are free on Smashwords right now, and all the links to purchase are below...
    Next week...
                   ... more excerpts of Clifford and Claire from the upcoming Red Wolf Rising.
   Until then, Happy Reading!

The Draculata Nest -----------------------------------------------------------------------
Click on the link to order:
ebook for Kindle    ebook for Nook    ebook for Kobo    in Paperback
in Charlotte    Smashwords free thru April 15 with coupon code BX73L

The Dragon of Doughton Park ----------------------------------------------------------
Click on the link to order:
ebook for Kindle    ebook for Nook    ebook for Kobo    in Paperback
in Charlotte    Smashwords free thru April 15 with coupon code SP83A
 

1 comment:

  1. Hello, sir. I've seen your posts on the Paranormal & Dark Fantasy group, but this might be my first visit here. I just wanted to say that I thought you put this rather well. I know Red, but must have missed all the commotion. It's too bad that some of this negative stuff goes on. Hopefully it's few and far between. Happy Easter!

    -Jimmy
    http://jamesgarciajr.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete