When Authors Are Criticised

Authors labour over their work.  Their work becomes a part of them and eventually when they are proud enough of it, they release it into the wild for others to read so I can imagine it stings when someone gives a bad review.  However, surely it’s par for the course?  If you don’t want someone to have an opinion, keep it to yourself.  Opinions, they say, are like assholes – everybody has one.  Note: You may have guessed I have never submitted work for critique this side of high school but I’d like to think I could handle it a little bit better than this screwball:

Teenager gives bad review.  Man feels aggrieved.  Travels over 400 miles to smash a wine bottle over her head while she stacks shelves.  Eek.

It got me thinking about how others react.  There will be some Zen-like people who just let it pass them by, there will be people who are blissfully ignorant of others opinions and then there are others who extract revenge.  The example above is possibly the most extreme example but here are some others:

Richard Ford on his bad review from Alice Hoffman:

Interviewer: Is that a true story that your wife took a pistol and shot a bad review Alice Hoffman gave you?

Ford: Yes, it is a true story. Shot her book. Seemed so good to do. We had another copy so I went out and shot it. I don’t read my reviews anymore.

Stephen Leather argues with Amazon reviewers – see here.  Personally I have never purchased a Stephen Leather book.  He may have some good ones but I downloaded a free book before and it was pretty dire.  I guess that’s the chance you take with a free book though.  His books that were traditionally published and have filtered through a team of professionals are probably more polished and a better read.  Regardless, I think arguing with reviewers is a waste of time.  We all have different taste in books.  You can’t force someone to like your work.

Alice Hoffman argues with a journalist on Twitter and publishes her phone number to encourage fans to call and abuse her.  Wow, seems like she can dish it out but can’t take it.  Remind me to never read an critique an Alice Hoffman book.  See story here.

I’d love to know where you stand on this.  Would you extract revenge for a bad review?  Have you any examples of other cases?  Get in touch!

Di 🙂

You snooze, you lose!

I have heard stories of writers compelled to write and somehow, seemingly through the use of magic, they are able to conjure up time where it doesn’t seem to exist i.e in between working a full-time job, looking after a family/pets, looking after yourself, navigating through an increasingly busy modern life and not forgetting sleep. People have to sleep. I always wondered how this magic works. How do they find the motivation to make this extra time?

I’ve mentioned before that Elmore Leonard used to get up at 5 and write for 2 hours before going to work.  While this is admirable, the thought of doing this fills me with dread and given the fact I also have to ready two small children for school/nursery before I leave for work just before 8, this is not really possible for me anyway.  I’m not being negative or procrastinating, it’s just the way it is.  I do have a little bit of good news to share though.

I recently discovered a motivational speaker called Mel Robbins on YouTube.  I liked what she had to say so I downloaded her book from Amazon – Stop Saying You’re Fine: Discover A More Powerful You.  As with most self-help advice, it offers some nuggets that really should be common sense.  The parts that stood out the most were:

1)  Stop pressing snooze on your alarm clock.  Get up and start the day.  

She says by doing this, you are using your “activation energy.”  The idea (originally thought of by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) is that you don’t want to get up but if you make yourself, you are pushing through your limits and you’ll be able to use the extra say 30 minutes to do something else.  I have been doing this for 5 days.  It was difficult at first but now I’m springing out of bed and using the quiet time (before the kids get up) to write or edit.  Bonus! I would have been hitting snooze 2 or 3 times normally.  At even just 30 minutes per weekday, I’m gaining two and a half hours to write.

2)  Do the things you don’t want to do to get what you want

Mel says that if we don’t act on our ideas or impulses within 5 seconds, they disappear.  By this she means, if you have an idea or impulse and you don’t do something with it straight away, you will most likely talk yourself out of it.  I have to admit to doing this sometimes.  Mundane tasks end up taking priority and reducing the amount of time available for more enjoyable pursuits such as writing or playing guitar.  She says if you can start pushing through resistance to act on smaller impulses, you will build up confidence to being able to push through resistance to bigger change – change that will benefit your life.  My first step was not pressing snooze but I have noticed myself pushing through with smaller things throughout the day as well.

I would definitely recommend checking Mel out, either via YouTube or her book.  I for one will definitely be carrying on with this way of thinking/acting.

What do I have to lose? Nothing.  What do I have to gain? Everything!

Di 🙂