www.marilynbrant.com

Thursday, December 31, 2009

On Criticism and Writers

The year 2009 has been an interesting one, and I use the word "interesting" deliberately and in exactly the evasive manner with which it's often intended...

For me, this was a year of a lot of ups and downs and, while I mostly talked about the ups on this blog (the book! the book!), there were plenty of other things that created challenges. It was a tough and stressful year for so many people I know and care about, and I couldn't help but think this week what a blessing it is when, in the midst of some such challenge, you encounter people who are gentle with you. Who give you the benefit of the doubt. Who treat you with care. Not because they think you're fragile and can't handle it, but because they're wise enough to know they don't know what else might've been going on in your life in the days or hours before you met up with them.

It's been surprising to discover those who naturally demonstrated this gift of perception...and, likewise, those in whom I haven't seen any evidence of it this year. In a lot of ways, I think it comes down to a sense of fairness, whether innate or developed. Trying to be as evenhanded and as objective as possible when dealing with others--in person, on the phone, online. Being critical for a specific purpose, perhaps, but not as a state of being. Not as a way of relating to the world at large.

And so, as 2009 comes crashing to its conclusion at a snowbank near you, I want to discuss a subject that has been very interesting to me throughout the year, and this involves a few facets of criticism, particularly in the writing world.

I wandered into this year expecting literary criticism. Writers write and reviewers comment. ("That According to Jane book had kind of a cool premise, I mean, if you could get over the really odd 'hearing voices' thing and all of those sex scenes.") While I may not have always agreed with someone's analysis of the story, my debut novel is out there, and it's not just mine anymore. A part of it belongs to every reader willing to pick it up, and everyone who does is entitled to comment as they see fit about the story structure, the characters' motivation, the plot conflict, etc. I'm more than okay with that. I find genuine, thoughtful novel critiques fascinating, and I never tire of learning more about writing craft.

Criticisms of me, personally, however--fault-finding not of the story but of the author--created a far less sedate internal reaction. Turns out, published writers are open to criticism from everyone, from everywhere and for just about everything. There is little discretion and often even less tact in some negative reviews. And though we want to send hugs and chocolate to those kind souls who take the time to write something positive and encouraging about our novels, there is a subset of readers who think nothing of linking their individual dislike of a specific story element with a personal slam against the author. ("Since the main character is obviously an immoral tramp--the writer must be, too.")

But, as bizarre and irrational as that reaction seemed to me initially, I grew to expect it on nearly every major review site (Amazon, GoodReads, Library Thing, etc.) and for a large percentage of novels reviewed there. If an author had more than, say, 10-15 reviews, you could almost bet one of them would be by some angry person who felt justified in spouting a grammatically challenged missive like, "Whata bunch of crap. Only a lonly, fat, cat-loving spinster could of written such a unbeleivable 'love' story. Blehh!"

Actually, I noticed a lot of Internet rage in general this year, with Anonymous people posting callous remarks not only in book reviews but on discussion loops, article comments, forum walls. There was a particularly ruthless dig directed at Stephenie Meyer that was so personal, insulting and not remotely writing-related, it succeeded only in making the commenter seem jealous, petty, insecure and extremely bitter about Meyer's tremendous writing success--far from the "smart and witty" observation that I'm sure he/she had intended.

But I've been both intrigued and frustrated to find that the criticisms don't end with anonymous nasties. This year has brought a windfall of other, non-novel-related criticisms--ones that I've learned writers deal with all the time--and they come in forms both verbal and nonverbal. These are "personal" in a different way, and they have to do with the expections other people have of us. There's one criticism in particular I'd heard leveled against debut authors in prior years, and I'd been monitoring myself carefully in hopes of avoiding it. I desperately didn't want to be one of those new authors who, in the gossipy cocoon of RWA and among a mix of writers at a range of publishing stages, could be accused of this serious charge: Now that she's published, she's changed.

But it's not so simple. No one undergoes any sort of trial by fire and is left unchanged by the experience. So, in case anyone is wondering: Yes, I have.

That change, however, is not, as some might suspect, because of the book contract, or because of some newfound love of being in the public eye (LOL! I'm an introvert, people...), or because of my now permanent affiliation with the Published Authors Network. It's because of the very public nature of criticism itself and the braided strands of toxicity that are Envy, Resentment and Insecurity. It's having spent the majority of 2009 trying to come to terms with other people's misperceptions of my job--while still trying to do my job--that made me reevaluate the attitudes and actions of those around me. It also made me rethink my own and, as a result, draw some new boundaries.

Online, of course, separating oneself from antagonism requires different tactics. Sometimes, I think the only effective method is to turn off the computer... With increasing frequency, I'm stunned by things I read there. Like this week, I read a one-star review of a fellow novelist's first book--a novel I loved, by the way, by an author who went on to have seven successful books in her popular series so far (with more to come!) and then to see those novels translated and sold throughout the world. And a random commenter/non-professional reviewer, who claimed to be an aspiring novelist herself, said she'd wished she'd thought of the high-concept story premise first, so she could have done a much better job of writing it than that talentless author. I laughed aloud at the computer screen, cheered for my multi-published friend and, to the anonymous reviewer I said, "Yeah, honey, good luck with that EVER happening."

I was an aspiring writer myself in rather recent history. I also have the pleasure of knowing a great many wonderful aspiring writers who are working hard to hone their craft and break through the cement-like wall of query letters and agent/editor rejections. I know it's hard. But this I've learned for sure in 2009: It doesn't get any easier. As a published author, you get just as many rejections on your story ideas as you did pre-contract, at least as many (usually significantly more) editorial suggestions, very public objections to elements in your book AND you have to promote your novels and your "brand" while writing new material on deadline.

When a writer, whether aspiring or published, turns into an incessant critic of, let's say, a New York Times bestselling author, and that writer-critic publicly--or, even worse, behind that other author's back--insists that this famous author's writing sucks, her publishing contract paid her more than she deserved, her print runs were too high, she looks far less attractive in person than in her author photo and her agent and/or editor must be battling a crack addiction to have ever signed her...well, I wish that writer-critic the opportunity to see every one of her publishing fantasies realized, and that wish isn't out of loving kindness on my part. I'd look forward to watching her try to juggle all of the required aspects of the writing life and the pressure that comes with the perception of success in this industry. Even more, I'd like to see the knowledge dawn on her (sooner rather than later, if at all possible) that every critical and ungracious thing she's ever said about some other writer will be said about her--if she's lucky enough to be noticed by readers--whether those comments are deserved or not, true or untrue, simply because serious and persistent criticism comes with this territory. It's a whole lot easier to stand on the sidelines and be a constant critic than it is to be the central focus of that criticism, especially when it's sung to the tune of "Hey, she's made a lot of money and/or hit a bit list, we should all spew hate at her."

And knowing this--really, really knowing this--even to my far lesser, smaller-contract, non-NYT-bestseller, no-big-list-hitting degree, has, indeed, changed me this year. Though I've never written a nasty online review (who has TIME for that?!), the awareness of all the criticism writers receive has now fully penetrated, and it's made me unwilling to tolerate even clever little quips at a famous writer's expense. Do not trash Nora Roberts, Dan Brown or Stephen King here, please, unless it's in the context of a fair and honest literary analysis of their writing. I only have the tiniest inkling of what they've had to deal with, but I'm in awe of the difficulty of their accomplishment, and no one got to their level without a hell of a lot of work. For the same reason, please don't trash my published writer friends, least of all in my earshot (not that anyone here would!), especially those friends who've scored big contracts or won major awards. They may have faults, but so do we all, and I can tell you, most of them didn't get to where they are by spending their precious writing time blasting their negativity and futile what-ifs at other writers.

In my opinion, if someone thinks he/she can do a better job of writing a story than someone else, that person had best put his/her energy toward actually writing one. Save the sniping comments for those people who, by claiming they could have done a far superior job with another writer's storyline, clearly show just how incapable they are of coming up with an original idea themselves and following through on it. (And I sincerely believe every writer skimming through this essay is more than equal to the task of creating authentic and inspired work... :)

And so, while I'm not one for making grandiose New Year's Resolutions, I am making this vow for the coming year: To take my own advice and to practice it, every day, to the best of my ability. I can't force anyone to follow me in this, nor do I expect it, but, considering what I've seen of the alternative, I know I'll feel cheerier and better able to rise above the unfair criticisms out there if I'm not getting swept into taking part in them myself.

Here's to wishing everybody reading my end-of-the-year ramble a happy, healthy and productive 2010! May the books you read--or write--bring you so much peace and joy in the coming year that there's no room for anything negative. And may you feel as fortunate as I do, to enter a New Year with such a terrific, supportive and fabulous blog community. Thanks to all of you for being one of the really good parts of 2009. Wishing you the fulfillment of every cherished dream...plus a few unexpected but delightful ones.

**P.S. Congrats to Silvia!! You're the winner of my December prize package (DVD of "The Jane Austen Book Club," 2 packets of hot cocoa, Nancy Parra's Dream Man sleep mask, large refrigerator magnet of According to Jane and 1 Ghirardelli dark chocolate and caramel bar :). Please email me -- marilynbrant AT gmail DOT com -- with your snail mail address!

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm not a writer but I was in sports for a lot of time and it can be the same there. It's really easy to criticize the people getting lots of attention on the team instead of having everyone just work on their own skills.

Interesting post, thanx!

Happy new year,
Samantha

betsy said...

Marilyn,

Just wanted to let you know that you're not alone wondering where the hell all the naysayers get their time!

A long time ago I decided I was not going to join in the chorus of people hating this or that, because well, it's boring. New things? Exciting! Tearing down someone else's work? Boring as hell.

Now that I've written a book and have read some criticisms of my work online for all to see, I'm even more determined to stick to my guns.

My life changed dramatically when I switched to not being negative about the works of others, changing my attitude, my circle of friends, made things move forward. Finally. That's the catalyst that brought so much change. Just that one move. I wish more people (writers and otherwise) would try it! :)

Great post!

Edie Ramer said...

I try not to be negative about others, and I think I succeed for the most part. I remember hearing Jayne Ann Krentz at a workshop a few years ago saying that she'd had a bad review and she called Susan Elizabeth Phillips, who told her to get that magazine out of her house. Not to even look at it. From then on, she didn't read her reviews. (Or was that SEP who told that story? LOL I'm not sure.)

I don't know if I could resist reading the reviews, but at least I don't join the bad reviewers.

I hope 2010 will be interesting for you, too, but all of it in a wonderful way.

Marilyn Brant said...

Samantha~Oh, good point about the sports! Not being so athletically inclined myself (I try, but I'm pretty dreadful!), I hadn't thought of how competitive it must get sometimes. I will say, my son ran cross country for the first time this fall and, even though he was very much a novice and not as fast as many, there were some incredibly supportive people on the team. We were really grateful for that!

Betsy~Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Also, congrats on your book!! I found the Amazon page for "Knitting for Good" and it sounds wonderful! (Every since I heard Kate Jacobs speak this fall, I've been anxious to give knitting another try and hope I'll someday be able to figure out that "casting on/off" thing--LOL. :) It *is* amazing how much it helps when a person focuses on the positive side, isn't it? I'm so glad to hear that it's led to good things happening for you.

Edie~Was it during "The Secrets of the Bestselling Sisterhood"?? I think I heard that story, too, but I can't remember which author said it either!! :) As for not being negative about others, I think you succeed beautifully. One of the things I love so much about visiting Magical Musings is the attitude you all share there--very warm, down-to-earth and willing to explore the aspects of the writing life that are challenging but always in an honest and respectful way. I truly believe these qualities will serve you well when you get that first contract (fingers crossed for 2010!!) and, hopefully, make that publication journey easier...

Susan McBride said...

Marilyn, what a fabulous thoughtful post! You hit the nail on the head re. so many things I've been thinking about/dealing with this past year in particular. It's bizarre sometimes, being a private person whose passion involves putting a good hunk of herself out there for some (and there will always be some) to criticize. One of my resolutions for 2010 is to toss out negativity like used kitty litter and move on. We'll see how I do! Here's to good health, happiness, and continued success in 2010! After all, success is the best revenge, right? ;-)

Cheers,
Susan

LJCohen said...

Marilyn--first, here's to 2010! May the year bring you and your family joy.

Second--this is a killer blog post. Should be required reading for any writer or reader out there. Well said. I found myself nodding all the way through it. I don't understand what people get out of being nasty, but I think I know where it comes from.

It comes from fear. Fear that if someone does well, than you somehow have less of a chance at success. The scarcity mindset.

It's one of my goals, too, to avoid that pitfall and to practice compassion on a daily basis.

It seems everything I read or see these days reminds me of the need for more compassion. If you haven't seen this yet, take a look at the Charter for Compassion. http://charterforcompassion.org/

I'm glad 2009 introduced me to you.

Best,
lisa

Kwana said...

I understand your post. Reviews and reviewers can be tough and you have to look and who and where the reviews are coming from. It's not always done with a sincere heart. I know I have troubles with the reviews I write. I'm always honest but I will not trash another writer. I just won't do the review if I feel I need to do that. That's just my way being a writer myself.

Wishing you a wonderful New Year!

squiresj said...

I am a reviewer and I won't write a negative review. If I absolutely cannot write a positive review, I won't write one at all. I love to find new authors and love to pass their works on to others to be blessed by the books too. If I have a problem with something, I would rather write the author to express my opinion nicely than put it in a review.
As A reviewer I take the job I do which pays nothing as a way to encourage and uplift and let others know what good books are available and to get them to read them. I also share all my books and it has truly been a blessing this year.
I hope I got on in time to be in contest. I just found you.
jrs362(at)hotmail(dot)com
I'd love to receive your newsletter.

Pamala Knight said...

This post made me cry. Not because it's sad but because it's just so sincere and genuine. I too, have learned LOADS this year about the publishing industry and not all of it was cast in a positive light.

I've already ranted elsewhere about the people who have the time and energy to post negative and downright mean reviews about authors or books that have absolutely nothing to do with the content or story. Personal attacks, forays into speculation and other criticisms that lend no value to helping create better work in the future just stun me.

I'll join you in your resolution to keep my eyes on the prize, so to speak and to ignore the cacophony. Thanks for the thoughtful post and Happy New Year to you, dear Marilyn.

Marilyn Brant said...

Susan, thank you so much! And I love the image of tossing out negativity liked used kitty litter--LOL!! I know you'll have great success with The Cougar Club (I, for one, will be an enthusiastic reader when it comes out next month!), and I hope there will be very few, if any, less-than-glowing reviews. Wishing you much good health and happiness in 2010, too!

Lisa~I'm so glad 2009 introduced us, too! (*hug*) Thanks for your thoughts on the post--and, yes, I know you're right about the fear. It's so pervasive, isn't it? Across cultures, professions, even age groups... I guess, when I was in high school, I hadn't expected to still be dealing with juvenile behaviors in my 40s. I was naive in imagining everyone would have their issues worked out by now. Thanks for the link to the Compassion site--I will visit there tonight :). Happy New Year!!

Pamela Cayne said...

Marilyn, I am left speechless at what you've had to endure this year, however, even without my voice I can still speak, so I stand and applaud your New Year's resolution, so wonderfully given.

To me, ever since I met you almost 2 years ago, you have been nothing but kind and supportive to me, an aspiring writer--even in the midst of your pre-launch frenzy this year, you found time for me. I don't know that there is a nicer, more encouraging, more caring person out there. You personify 'class' and 'charm' and I'm positive you were like that even before setting pen to paper.

That being said (Hey--I had to defend my girl!), I agree with all that do not dare criticize until you have walked a mile in our shoes, especially those of you who think romance is just women's porn. And even though I tried Twilight and didn't like it, I will never say anything against Stephenie Meyer because, by God, she walked the walk. She put herself out there and yes, had the nerve to get published. How dare she. I say take a bow. That's the reason I don't give any book I read less than 5 stars on my GoodReads page. If you got it published, I will recognize that accomplishment, because baby, it is huge. Whatever happened to 'if you can't say anything nice, don't say it at all'?

Edie and Marilyn--yes, it's a story from Secrets of the Bestselling Sisterhood. I believe it was JAK who had the bad review and SEP who told her get it out of the house, but I'm not sure. SEP just has that kind of strict schoolteacher/nun vibe to her sometimes. I was the recipient of one of her (over the tops of her glasses if she wore them) looks and it made me tremble in my shoes. Gads, I love both of them!

Happy New Year to you and yours, Marilyn. May 2010 bring you peace and prosperity.

Marilyn Brant said...

Kwana~I've read your reviews, and I know how evenhanded you are. I can't imagine any professional writer taking offense at one of your thoughtful literary critiques, and I say that as objectively as possible, even taking your kind review of JANE out of it :). I reviewed for RT for 4 years, and I know how tricky it can be to write a review that's both honest and tactful. I think you do a marvelous job. Wishing you a wonderful 2010 with only good news ahead!

squiresj~I applaud the honorable stand you take with reviewing and I *love* that your attitude is one of sharing your passion for good books with others! I hope you'll find many more to add to your list in 2010!! Thanks so much for signing up for my newsletter--I don't write often (4-5 times/year max), but I hope you'll enjoy the things I include in it :). As for the Dec. contest, when I posted this essay I'd already drawn the winner's name (Silvia) and typed it at the very end of this post, but I gave away prizes every month of 2009 and will be definitely having many, many contests throughout 2010!

Marilyn Brant said...

Pamala~I know you've been tackling things on so many fronts this year {huge hug!}, and there are quite a few surprise dimensions to this wacky industry, aren't there?! I know... I didn't expect them all either. But I love the way you expressed it--"keeping our eyes on the prize"--and I've seen how hard you've worked on your own writing craft ever since we met. Good things come to people with your dedication and persistence, my friend. Looking forward to the exciting things 2010 has in store for you!! :)

Pamela~Oh, you are just so wonderful...and, you see, your genuineness and passion for the craft of writing, your wild enthusiasm and support for me (both before and after my book came out), makes it effortless on my part to want to reach out and help in any way I can. I do wish I could better ease the paths of all of my fabulous aspiring-writer friends as you start going through this stuff yourselves. ('Cause those sales are gonna happen soon and you all need to be ready!!) Hopefully just knowing a little more about the joys and the frustrations will help... And, as for your GoodReads page, I remember when you blogged about that! I can tell you with absolute certainty that you made a lot of writers very happy when they read your 5-star reviews ;). xo

Robin said...

Thank you, Marilyn, for sharing so much of yourself with us this past year and ending 2009 with such an inspiring and thought provoking post. *You* are one of the best people I know - always so giving and caring and unselfish and helpful and cheery, and optimistic, and I feel so very lucky to count you as a friend. I'm fairly new to this writing gig and am so shy and private that I think I've sort of sheltered myself from the negative. When I'm hopefully published one day it's going to be really hard for me because I do take things personally. But having had the opportunity to learn from people like you will most definitely help me keep things in perspective. I know it's an old saying, but it's one I've always tried to follow and one I'm always telling my kids to follow: Treat others the way you want to be treated. Every day is a blessing and we should all remember that.

I wish you the very, very best in 2010! Hugs!

Marilyn Brant said...

Robin~I feel so lucky to count you as a friend, too. Thank you for being so kind, encouraging and enthusiastic from the first day we met onward :). As for taking things personally, I think we all do, at least a little, even when we know we shouldn't... I'm here for you, you know. Seriously--the day you get your first really horrible review, you'll have to email me the link, and we'll pick apart all the reasons it's irrational while eating brownies, deal? :)

Vesper said...

Marilyn,

This post is too important to just read quickly... I've read it quickly but I need to come back and ponder over it...

But tonight I'd like to send you my best wishes for a wonderful year ahead, full of health and joy. Happy New Year!

xoxoxo

Nancy J. Parra said...

Happy New Year Marilyn,

I hope 2010 brings you everything you need and is filled with warmth and love.

cheers~

Marilyn Brant said...

Vesper~Thank you...Thanks for your thoughts tonight (however brief :), and for your lovely wishes for 2010. I wish you every wonderful thing as you begin a new year and a new decade!! And I look forward to reading more of your beautiful and thought-provoking poetry in the coming year...

Nancy~Thanks so much!! May your New Year bring fabulous things your way (as well as a terrific new release for all of us to enjoy next month)!

Robin said...

Deal! :)

Silvia said...

I entered a contest held by Marilyn Brant.
Let me tell you this lady is grant.

She can write, oh boy can she.
A nice book and a blog post or three.

You never guess what happened yesterday.
I was reading at her site and it clearly did say:

Congrats Silvia, you won my package full of prize.
How very special this wonderful surprise!

So please let me shout out in rhyme.
Thank you Marilyn! I feel sublime. :)

Enid Wilson said...

Marilyn,

Your end of the year post was honest and thought provoking. I had two books published without going through the road of traditional publishers and boy, you should see some of bad reviews I got, just because of that.

After reading a few of them, I stopped all together because I could see that they were often based on inaccurate fact or unreasonable logic.

I'm happy to say that the books are selling extremely well (one of them reached top 50 best selling historical romance in Amazon, among the books by traditional publishers).

And there are readers who sent me thank you notes.

It's good to know that I've brought a smile, a laugh or a tear to at least some readers out there in the world.

I hope you have a better 2010! Write and laugh more.

Really Angelic

Marilyn Brant said...

Robin~I'll hold you to it. :-)

Silvia~Congrats, again! Your poetry is a delight!! Thank you for taking the time to compose such a rhyme ;). I'll get the prize out to you before the end of this coming week. Hope you'll enjoy it!!

Enid~I'm sorry to hear you've had to deal with a lot of reviewer negativity with your books--even though it's great to get those wonderful fan messages! I know, regardless of whether a book is traditionally published by a large or small press or independently published, that criticisms abound across the board. I've recently talked to friends who published their novels with smaller presses and they've felt the sting of criticism for the same reasons you mentioned. My point, really, was that people whose primary intention is to be critical of an author's work WILL FIND a reason--whether they go the route of being dismissive of a project because it was released non-traditionally or claiming that the author who hit the NYT bestseller list only got there because she was cute/rich/lucky. In neither of these cases, however, are the criticizers actually debating the specific literary merits of the work (which, IMO, is the only fair way to critique), and I'm frustrated with society's trend of being "okay" with that attitude.

L.A. Mitchell said...

Marilyn,

Such a heartfelt post. It would be great on the 007 blog, too, so more could appreciate its message. Your perspective is so enlightening as I look ahead :)

Happy New year, hon!

Marilyn Brant said...

Thanks, L.A. ;). I know this year will have a lot of good things in store for you--it's bound to be exciting! Happy 2010!!

Rick said...

I was really surprised by this post, Marilyn, having forgotten just how jealous and rude people can sometimes be. It's so hard to imagine anyone making a personal criticism of you based on your book or, worse, based on their being jealous of your success. That's just so wrong. I'm sorry you've experienced it, because you and the other writers who endure this type of bad behavior could really use support. In fact, if I could email you chocolate I would.

And I agree with Vesper- this post is so important it needs to be read more than once.

Happy New Year to you!

Marilyn Brant said...

Rick~Happy New Year to you! I'm of the belief that chocolate--real or virtual--soothes most ills, so I truly thank you :).

As for some people's behavior, yeah...it's been eye opening. But, this is a hot button issue for me, and I'm probably overly sensitive to it. By comparison to any really popular writer, only a small portion of negativity has been directed specifically at me. (Jeez, it's been enough, though--LOL! I get the idea!) I can't imagine what someone as successful and well-known as Stephanie Meyer must deal with daily...but I find myself hoping she has someone screening her reviews ;).

Morgan Mandel said...

Sounds like you've had a tough time of it lately. I'm sorry to hear that about such a nice person and great author! It's not an easy business at times. Think about the nice people of which there are many and don't dwell on the few stinkers out there.

Morgan Mandel
http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

Marilyn Brant said...

Thanks, Morgan! I appreciate your upbeat attitude :). Wishing you a wonderful 2010!!

Maria Geraci said...

Am coming out of my holiday coma to say, well said, Marilyn! I had no idea before I was published the sort of criticism, and sometimes just plain nastiness that unfortunately comes with the territory. I can now understand why so many big time authors refuse to read reviews. The bigger the book, the wider the spectrum and some of those 1 star reviews are just plain nasty. I always feel those people have some sort of agenda. And being objective isn't one of them.

Vesper said...

Marilyn, your "end-of-the-year ramble" went straight to my heart. I thank you for it.

I am a very private person and an introvert. Even writing on my blog was in the beginning an immense effort for me. I'm more used to it now, but still I get all jittery whenever I post a piece of my poetry or of my fiction. I feel exposed, I feel vulnerable. I cannot imagine how it would be (though I still hope I will find out someday :-) ) to send a book, this child of your soul, into the world.

But, I am not one who dwells in thoughts or things she dislikes. Maybe it's not considered "healthy", but what bothers me I discard to some unreachable regions of my mind. This I would do with the kind of criticism you're describing in this post. Recognize it as a case of sour grapes and dismiss it. I know it's much easier said than done, that it takes practice. Too many people are mean, petty. Take your strength from the good feelings of those who love and admire you (this commenter included) and ignore the rest.

Thank you again for your wonderful wishes! I return them to you a thousandfold.

xoxoxo

(Word verification: evilists... odd, huh?) :-)

Marilyn Brant said...

Maria~I think you really nailed it with the "agenda" element. A review that's a true literary critique has a very different tone than one that's an angry rant by a person "with a message." A true review may list 4-5 negatives, for instance, but it will ALSO list at least a couple of positives... And there will not--at any time, in any paragraph--be a threat to do bodily harm to the author for writing such an offensive story, while in the next sentence broadcasting to the world how "very moral" the reviewer is by comparison to said author (LOL!). Irony is delightful, although I could live with less of it in the real world :).

Vesper~Thank YOU for your thoughts and for your wise--and I think VERY healthy--advice. I do try to shrug off as much of it as possible, particularly by people who are pretty clearly in that nasty ranting stage, but your reminder is a good one... Also, there's no gift that can match how *wonderful* it is to have truly supportive readers and friends in this writing life {hug!}, so please know how grateful I am for that!! Looking forward to being able to return the favor to you! (p.s. "Evilists"? Really?!)