consider the source (bad reviews)
A lot of time when writers get a bad review they say “consider the source” as if it’s a bad thing. I don’t get it. Are their egos that frail that these authors will just assume that any negative words written about their book are misguided, biased or delivered with ill intent? Here the thing I truly don’t understand. Some authors want to be the ‘rebel’ or feel that what they are writing is way outside of the mainstream and yet when that same mainstream that they are so eager to be separate from rejects their offerings they rant and rave.
You can’t have it both ways. If you want to be different than by definition the masses will not appreciate you. They buy People and US magazine and are interested in the lives of rich, vapid and completely talentless whores who are famous for being famous. Those are the masses… you’re either one of them or you’re not. If you write something that will only be appreciated by a small percentage of people than only a small percentage of reviewers are going to like it.
Reviewers who give bad reviews are simply telling the people that look to them for reviews what they will most likely feel about the book. That’s their job. If you send your book to the wrong reviewer of course they are going to shit all over it because their readers would shit all over it.
Why get mad? Nobody should be trying to get people to buy their book that would hate it. These reviewers are doing both the author and their audience a favor.
I like this quote:
“A bad book is as much of a labor to write as a good one, it comes as sincerely from the author’s soul.”
Maybe that explains the powerful reaction writers have to criticism. Perhaps they need to step back and not only consider the source but appreciate it as well. Following Huxley’s logic a bad review, like a ‘bad’ book, is coming from the reviewer’s soul. Now of course writers will counter with this classic:
“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”
-Theodore Roosevelt Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910
Clearly Teddy never read some of the shitty books floating out there though. If a critic can save one unfortunate reader from avoiding one of these stinkers than I think some measure of gratitude should be extended. In the end, writers write for the same reason a zit pops. They try and pretend their self-image isn’t tied to the reaction their stories get but it inevitably is. The trick is to be happy with what you write regardless of what others think about it. Not easy of course but shooting the messenger/reviewer is a no-win solution.
“To be an artist you have to give up everything, including the desire to be a good artist.”