A Rant About the Awesome Side of Bad Reviews

In which follows a rant as prompted by the much-blogged about “GR Bullies” fiasco of 2012. If you need background on the subject, you can read at HuffPo or PassiveGuy or Cuddlebuggery. Or you can just read what follows and make of it what you will. I’m not even sure I should be opening my mouth, but this is something I feel fairly passionate about, so here goes.

This whole thing came about because some authors were upset by reviews of their books as posted on Goodreads. I’ve read some of the reviews, and you know what? I would be pumped to have any of them read my book. Even if they hated it. I can only imagine the fuel I’d get for my writing, because that’s what a large part of my writing is – creating characters who argue about things in place of the real me. I’d be utterly insufferable if I didn’t channel some of this into my work.

But it’s more than that.

I am amazed and so grateful that there are such passionate readers out there. I am amazed. Do you see how badly readers WANT to be taken along by your story? Do you see how much disbelief we are willing to suspend for words that move us, that thrill us, that become a part of our very selves? How badly we want this to happen, how much we are willing to overlook, how hard we take it when something is brought to the table and not delivered in the end?

As a writer, this is not something you tread lightly upon. And you should never, ever take it for granted. If I’m going to be putting a book out there, this is the arena I want to be playing in. I don’t want anyone lowering the standards so that we can all just get along. Did you not read Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron?

I’m sorry some people have had their feelings hurt. Okay, you know what? I’m not sorry, not really. Because they’ve chosen to have their feelings hurt. You’ve got control over that, y’know? And if you tell me you don’t then I’ll call you lazy. Sure it stings. But you’re a big girl or boy and you’re perfectly capable of talking yourself into a better place. If I ever, ever put out a piece of writing that people feel the need to be kind to me about, I’ll know I’ve failed. If those are your terms, stick with having friends and family as your readers. That’s okay, y’know? Nobody’s going to judge you for it.

Just don’t expect the beautiful, generous, romantic, intelligent reading public to demand anything less than the best. I wouldn’t.

That is all.