Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Oh the Cruelty, or is that Cruelness?


Well, been almost a week since I posted on the blog. I don’t know how time gets away from me. For one, we had preregistration last week, and I gave a test on Friday and got 30 essays from another class on Friday. Lots of grading over the weekend.

I had also been doing some writing. I finished a short horror story called “Long Dead Woman in a Black Dress,” which I’ll be submitting soon. I’m about halfway done with an SF story that carries the working title “Electric Love in Blue.” And I’ve drafted the first scene of a new Krieg story, which I’m calling “Where All the Souls are Hollow.”

Then came Sunday. On Sunday, all the plumbing in the house seemed to clog up, and it’s gotten worse. Plumber is supposed to come today (Tuesday) and I hope the news won’t be too bad. I don’t know about you, but these kinds of domestic crises take a toll on me. I know I should roll with the flow (or non-flow considering our current issue), but I just find it hard to concentrate when dealing with this kind of stuff. I let it get to me too much.

On the review front, I think the interview over on Prashant’s blog came off well. I sure appreciate him putting it up. On the less positive side, I also noticed a couple of days ago that Bitter Steel has a new review and it is a 1 star stomp. Looks like it went up about a month ago but this is the first I’ve seen it.  I apparently achieved the notable level of “tripe!”  This is actually the first 1 star review I’ve ever gotten for anything so I have to keep it in perspective.

Whether reviews are good or bad, I always read them to see if I can pick up any insights into what readers like or don’t like. This one was not very helpful, though. Besides the “tripe” label, he adds: “Then I stumbled upon the word 'cruelness', and I knew that it was a lost cause. Out of all the actual words the author could have chosen, he picked 'cruelness'. The word is 'cruelty', Shakespeare.”

Of course, cruelness is a perfectly good word that is found in dictionaries everywhere and is even counted as a word in Scrabble. I remember considering “cruelty” in the context of the story but I felt that ‘cruelness’ had the better sound in that particular situation.  So, if the use of “cruelness” instead of “cruelty” can make such an impact on this particular reader, there was no way I’d ever reach him anyway. Frankly, I’ve been much more troubled by 3 star reviews that took the work seriously and found something lacking.
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22 comments:

Keith West said...

I hate plumbing problems. You have my sympathy. Hopefully the plumber's bill and repairs won't be as bad as you fear.

Tom Doolan said...

I've had reviewers nitpick minor details like use of the "wrong" word, but none have ever given me a bad review for it. This guy seems a bit off. I've read Bitter Steel, and I have to wonder what he read, because I found it quite enjoyable.

Oh, and domestic troubles like that do indeed suck. I destroyed our microwave. In a house with two teens, that's like a death knell.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Most one star reviews don't have anything of value to them. (Trust me, I have my fair share.)
Thanks for reposting the link to the interview. In the insanity of the Challenge, I never made it back.

Charles Gramlich said...

Keith, I hope so. Auto insurance just went up 600 so any break would be appreciated.

Tom, I think we are going to need a new microwave soon ourselves

Alex, no prob. Thankee for visiting.

David J. West said...

I loved Bitter Steel, but you can't please everyone,

Charles Gramlich said...

David J., glad you enjoyed. And aye, tis true.

Snowbrush said...

"all the plumbing in the house seemed to clog up, and it’s gotten worse."

It means your main drain is blocked, but I guess you know that by now. If it's a simple blockage, and you know where the cleanout plug is, you can use a snake, a garden hose, or, better yet, a bladder-like device called a Drain Blaster that goes onto a garden hose, and clean the drain yourself. This is far less stressful--to me anyway--than having to wait for a plumber and then pay him over a $100 when he finally gets there. You can probably have your drain flowing again in about 15 minutes.

Ron Scheer said...

We thought our microwave had died, but discovered the plug had worked its way out of the outlet.

I marvel at the nerve of fault-finding critics so confident in their critical judgment that they (a) don't bother to fact-check themselves and (b) assume that a writer's assumed error condemns an entire work.

Ty Johnston said...

Sorry to hear about your plumbing troubles. I've been there, and yes, it does indeed suck. Or not suck, depending upon one's views. Once had a major water line burst in my basement at 3 o'clock in the morning just after I'd come home from a 12-hour shift at work. Fun times. At least I had an indoor swimming pool for a few days.

As for reviews, I read mine, too, looking for glimpses of what works and what doesn't. Unfortunately, it seems to be a rare review I find truly helpful, but then, the reviews apparently aren't there for the writer but for the reader. I tend to find my 3-star reviews the most helpful to me. The 1-star reviews are often full of vitriol or just silly, and the 5-star reviews are often love fests.

About using the wrong word ... I do so intentionally from time to time. Sometimes I'll even make up a word, if I think it sounds right to my ear and seems to fit the situation. I don't do these things often, but only when I feel it fits the story. Because that's what I'm telling, a story. I'm not working on a thesis, nor am I presenting a literary critique or a review to be considered by peers. It's a story, and sometimes rules have to be bent, broken or drug out to the back yard and shot in the face in order for the story to work the way the storyteller wishes it to. I admit, sometimes that doesn't work, but sometimes it does. When it does, it can be grand. And no, I don't suggest beginning writers go out and use this as an excuse to break all the rules left and right. Learn the rules first, then gradually play with them; over time and after tons of writing, one will get a feel for when it's okay to burst through the rules with creativity ... and even then it doesn't always work.

Riot Kitty said...

Do you have any exes lurking about? What an asshat. I'm sorry about that jerk. And the plumbing problems. He clearly deserves them more than you do!

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Charles, "cruelness" is in order. Words like these can and should be used in creative writing, if not, for instance, in newspaper reporting. I'm with Ron about readers not checking their facts beforehand.

Charles Gramlich said...

Snowbrush, turns out our septic tank is actually full. Got folks coming out today to look at cleaning that out.

Ron Scheer, I think I can see quite a bit of similarity in the 1 star reviews of very different books. Lots of times they focus on one rather weird element. And there is usually an admonition not to spend your money on 'this' piece.

Ty, I have used the worth "tithe" in an unusual way sometimes because it works for me. I have a friend who always just tells me I can't do that. I always just say, "well I just did." :) But yes, word experimentation is a part of a good writing tool kit

Riot kitty, now maybe I should write a story where I can send him my plumbing problems. I would like that very much!

Prashant, the sound of how words are read is very important to me so certain words just work for me in places where other folks probably wouldn't care.

Brian Miller said...

cruelness...is what the reviewer was doing...ha...they are looking for something to find wrong at that point...its good you read them all though, because you can glean little things that make you better....it was def a good interview of you...

Angie said...

Best of luck with the plumbing. :/

About the review, constructive criticism is awesome, but someone who's just looking to indulge in a smirky stomp-fest is an idiot, and I don't care what idiots think. I suggest you not care either.

Angie

Erik Donald France said...

Oh, man -- good luck with all and sundry. The "review" would irk me, the casual cruelness of it. I would be tempted to lay waste to the reviewer's soul, but then pardon him (or it) to the equivalent of Purgatory for a thousand years. If in a position so to do.

In any case, onward ~ all good energies your way ~~>



Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

One star hits are usually a symbol of popularity, my friend. If you get anything going in a positive direction, your work entices a reviewer, who decides to do a 'kill'. Don't worry about it, my friend. Keep writing. Multiple targets seem to work in the only defense against them.

Snowbrush said...

Oh, a septic tank, was it? I somehow assumed that you lived in town, plus it has been so very long since I lived in the country that I didn't even think about the possibility of a septic tank. I remember once that the top collapsed on our steel septic tank, and I had to first get the crap out, and then remove the tank by cutting it into pieces with a hammer and cold chisel. One doesn't forget jobs like that.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I find it hard to concentrate if my house isn't behaving too. Right now our gutters are working and so hard to get a gutter guy out in April.

David Cranmer said...

I enjoy the hell out of one stars and often post them on my blog. Usually they are so bad, that they can be labeled tripe.

Charles Gramlich said...

Brian, thanks. I really appreciate Prashant running that interview.

Angie, yeah, I don't. Years ago I probably would have been hurt but my skin has toughened quite a bit since then, and I've gotten a wee bit smarter as well.

Erik, I think those types feed off snarky responses. There's a whole gallery of them out there.

Bernard, the worthlessness of that kind of thinking on some people's parts just floors me.

Snowbrush, yeah, we live in the country. along a dirt road with woods on three sides. I was afraid the tree roots had invaded the tank but not yet it appears.

Patti, it does just drain you of energy. Or it does me.

David Cranmer, the "cruelty" thing definitely brought a grin to my face.

RK Sterling said...

“Long Dead Woman in a Black Dress” - AWESOME title, Charles! :)

And sometimes, it's just a cruel, cruel world. ;) Don't let it get you down, my friend. Your writing is top notch, and home stuff... meh. You've still got Lana and birds in the yard. :)

Charles Gramlich said...

RK, yeah, I'm digging on that title. And always on Lana and the yard birds. :)