Thursday, October 18, 2007

Disappointment


Well, I picked up my first negative review for Swords of Talera. Ouch! Amazing how much it hurts. What’s worse, I asked for the review. Double ouch! Also, I was sort of expecting it to be good since I recieved an email from the reviewer in late September saying: "I finished Swords of Talera. I enjoyed it very much." Triple ouch!

I first wrote “Swords” when I was 24, and though I polished and repolished the manuscript before it was published as a paperback I knew it suffered a bit in the plot department because of my youthfulness at the time it was constructed. I didn’t think it was as good as the two sequels, Wings Over Talera and Witch of Talera, but I did believe that the fast pace and the characters of Ruenn, Jask, and Rannon would carry readers along. Not so much, I guess. At least not in this case. Now I'm going to have to go back and revise my post on my writing strengths, take out the "action scene" one.

30 comments:

SzélsőFa said...

Not having done anything like writing a book/publishing/receiving reviews, I'm just wondering here:
Does re-writing mean the complete re-formation of sentences and events, like as if you were actually rewriting it, OR is it more like polishing?

OR does it depend on the severity of the problem?

To illuminate my question, let me draw a parallell:
You know I sometimes do proof-reading of texts translated from H. to E. Sometimes the translated text is so awful I ask for another translation. Which means I have to translate the whole text, but I do it, for the original translatio is so bad.

Bernita said...

Of course it hurts. One writes partly to please readers.

But. One bad review? One single opinion?
Pfui!

Randy Johnson said...

Don't let one bad review get you down. You can't please everyone. No matter how well a book is written, someone, somewhere, will not like it. I've seen negative reviews of Hemingway before.

Michelle's Spell said...

Hey Charles,
Hang in there, buddy! I hate that sort of thing, but I suscribe to the old Woody Allen view -- nobody grew up saying, I want to be a critic! I think that a lot of critical reviews are written out of frustration for not writing. I don't write reviews at all anymore, even when asked because I feel it's not a good use of my time, and I don't really want to judge. If I think something sucks, what's to say someone else won't love it? If I love something, I'll discuss it endlessly because I think there's a lot to learn from it. And I liked Swords and blah on your negative meanypants reviewer!

Scott Oden said...

I've received my fair share of bad reviews and each one felt like that particular someone had just insulted my child. But, that doesn't mean there anything you should *do* because of it. It's one person's opinion. Sure, we'd like them to have a good opinion of us ('us' being our books -- the great fallacy is in saying that reviews and rejections aren't personal. Of course they're personal; perhaps they weren't meant as such, but that's small comfort when you're on the receiving end of a torch-bearing mob of literati). But, one negative view is no reason to rewrite a darn thing.

I'm in the middle of Swords right now, and I see nothing wrong with your action scenes. They have the overtones of REH and ERB -- which, IMHO, make them the best kind of action scenes.

Charles Gramlich said...

Szelsofa, the first couple of times through it was "rewriting," moving chapters around, adding new chapters, breaking old chapters into two with new endings. Later it was polishing.

Bernita, yes, can't take the reader out of the equation.

Randy, thanks, I know you're right. I've read books myself that I loved but that friends didn't.

Michelle, thanks. I made a mistake in accepting a review assignment recently, but I said it was going to be my last, at least for fiction. I don't like doing them eitehr.

Scott, glad you are enjoying the action in "Swords." And thanks for the support. You're exactly right, and I'll feel completely better in a few days. It' just the transitions, you know.

writtenwyrdd said...

OUch indeed. I am sure you don't need to be too down on yourself over this; it smarts, but again, you said it got published already. Somebody liked it.

Avery DeBow said...

One bad review does not equal a bad book. But, it's still hard not to take it personally.

I'm working on being the new engineer on the compartmentalization train. Wanna hop aboard?

Lisa said...

I just spoke with a friend on the phone last night who is feeling bad about a review too. It really is so subjective that as hard as I'm sure it is to do, you just have to put it aside and think about all of the positive reactions you've gotten. Like you, I've read plenty of books I've loved and my friends hated and vice versa. Like the man said in The Big Lebowski, "that's like, just your opinion, man". Chin up! :)))

Farrah Rochon said...

Those not-so-glowing reviews do hurt, but it's just one person's opinion. I make myself feel better by saying something really mean about the person while on my drive home when no one else can hear me. What can I say? I'm a child.

Here's the to great reviews that have and are still to come!

Lisa said...

Hey! I just checked your Amazon reviews for both books and they are all stellar. I don't know where this new, not so nice one will be seen, but everything visible to most of the world is thumbs up -- keep that in mind :)

Charles Gramlich said...

writtenwyrd, I think it's probably quite childish to be hurt more by negative criticism than to feel good over positive reviews, but I think it's not uncommon for us humans to react that way.

Avery, thanks for the offer, but I'm thinking I'd somehow uncouple the cars and end up careening into a dead end tunnel without brakes and loaded with atomics. Hum, too bad that story's already been told. It don't sound half bad.

Lisa, I remember that line from "The Big Lebowski." A wise thought.

Farrah, I am such a saint that I never think bad thoughts. Truly, I really am a saint. Yes. (it doesn't sound like I'm protesting too much, does it?)

Ello said...

ANd they probably like brussel sprouts and hate chocolate cake! What do they know? This always comes up, everyone has such varied taste, and that is really a good thing in life, right? But thanks for reminding me that I wanted to order Swords of Talera!

Sidney said...

Ah, glean anything constructive you can from the review and otherwise let it be forgotten.

Charles Gramlich said...

ello, I'm glad if I reminded you then. :) I hope you enjoy it.

Sid, sound advice. There is usually something to learn.

Steve Malley said...

For what it's worth, the *best* review my first graphic novel got was 'straight to video'. :)

Those days were bad days. But then I'd get a little fan mail. Or a royalty check. Or I'd find my book in a store or library. Those were good days.

Hard as it is, the *real* challenge is not letting either good or bad days stop the new work...

Shauna Roberts said...

Well, a worthwhile review should point out both good and bad aspects, so your friend had to come up with something negative to say. And the reviewer did say they enjoyed it very much, and I'm sure they did.

I've heard people complain about a terrible review of their book or a friend's book, and when I read the review, the criticism was very mild. I think writers and their friends (and mothers!) tend to take every not-glowing comment to heart, whereas the potential reader pays more attention to the positives and whether the story sounds like something they'd like.

If the review you're referring to is one I read last night in a publication with a T in it, I thought overall it was a positive review. The negatives were picky things and you did things better in the sequel. And as I told you earlier, I liked your being a character in your own book. Chacon a` son gou^t.

Stewart Sternberg said...

As a former critic, I LOVE critics. What an obnoxious lot we are, what a superior creed. But let me quote someone else: "What's worse than bad publicity? No publicity." Hey, as long as they spelled your name right, eh?

cs harris said...

All the trite sayings are true--it's only one person's opinion, you can't please everyone, those who can't write critique, don't put too much stock in either the good or the bad things people say about your writing, etc. But if anyone can figure out a way to keep bad reviews from lacerating to the bone, I wish they'd tell me! I still sting from a positively savage review I got ten years ago on The Bequest. That book ended up being nominated for a Rita and selling more than any other book I've ever written. All the trite sayings ARE TRUE.

Charles Gramlich said...

Steve, that is the key, to work through the good and the bad. I usually do pretty well but do sometimes let things get to me more than they should.

Shauna, yes, that's the review, and you're right, there are some positives in there. And I know you're right, too, about writers seeing the negatives and ignoring the positives. I know I do as well. It's almost a personality characteristic, at least of many writers I know.

Stewart, I think that's certainly true for famous people. I'm not so clear that it's true for unknowns. But maybe. And anyway, it's not going to kill me.

Candice, as an example of this, I tend to get good teaching evaluations but every once in a while I'll have a student who doesn't like me for some reason or another. Man do I remember 'those' comments, better than the good ones. It kind of sucks.

writtenwyrdd said...

Charles, you're right, we get all twisted about the negative comments. One bad one spoils the taste of five hundred good ones.

JR's Thumbprints said...

Sorry to hear this. It kind of reminds me of a fellow coworker who asked our boss for a recommendation to get into a particular Masters program. She said, "No problem."

For some reason he didn't get accepted into the program, so he called the university. They told him his boss gave a less than favorable report about him.

Sometimes you just don't know whether someone's going to stab you in the back.

As for me, my critics are inmates. Their brutal honesty about my short stories is greatly appreciated.

etain_lavena said...

ahhhhh sorry Charles, keep your chin up:O)

HUGZ

Charles Gramlich said...

writtenywrd, it's silly of us of course, but pretty human.

JR, I can definetely see advantages to the inmate critics. I guess it would hard to have illusions with that crowd.

Etain, thanks much.

Josie said...

Charles, I just popped over to give you a link to check out Miles Davis. I'm surprised an "edgey" guy like you hasn't heard of him. He was the best jazz trumpeter who ever lived. Check him out :-)

Church Lady said...

I didn't even know you were published. After noticing Bernita mention you a couple of times on her blog, I decided to pop over.

I really enjoy your writing and insights. I also think that there is magic in what you can produce in your 20s. You're unfettered by commitments, worries, mortgages, and the drones of life that appear as you slide into your 30s and older. Now that I realize you have books out there, I'm going to order them. I'm looking forward to reading what you had written in your youth. I think it's going to be great.

Erik Donald France said...

Negative reviews suck. If I'm gonna post about something like a book or movie or whatever, I'm usually going to like it enough to plug it and promote it.

Charles Gramlich said...

Josie, you realize I might get a brain hemorrhage from this, don't you? ):`o

Church lady, thanks. I think there is certainly an energy and passion in our early stuff, although not as good of control over the subjet matter.

Erik, I tend to not say anything or just not name names if I'm posting something negative on a book. Unless the author is dead and gone.

Frightlever said...

I read that review a couple of days ago and thought it wasn't so bad but the reviewer clearly wasn't familiar with the genre conventions.

Does B**t F**k even exist or is he the alter ego you allude to in your later dream post?

Did you ACTUALLY write your own review just to make these people feel sorry for you?

Charles Gramlich said...

Frightlever, I didn't think of that, writing my own review for sympathy. Seems like a good idea, though. Next time things slack off I may give it a try.