Wednesday, 4 January 2012
Writer's Corner: Should Writers Review?
Hey guys. So I've been stalking again (big surprise). This time it's the blogs and websites of my fellow writers and self publishers. A theme that keeps coming up is whether or not writers should review books. It's something that I've been mulling over for a while and one which I change my mind about all the time.
I can understand why a lot of writers would abstain from putting their opinions on other books out there. Writing is a deeply personal thing and unless you do it yourself, it's hard to describe what it would feel like to put your heart and soul into creating a story, only to have someone tear it down. But I don't need to describe it to a lot of you guys who follow me. Many of you have blogs of your own and know how you get a spring in your step when you get a complimentary comment. Imagine then what it would feel like if you got a comment which totally trashes your review.
There's also a feeling of solidarity amongst writers. If I know anything about writing (and I admit I know scant little as I'm a novice) it's that the best source of advice and also support is from other writers.
Then there's that anxiety of offending someone in the book industry and have it come back later and bite you in the behind. See THIS POST from Becca Fitzpatrick's blog for an example. (FYI I don't necessarily agree with what she says). Essentially, publishing is a small world and you never know who you may offend. It makes it difficult to be honest with your opinion on a book because in the back of your mind, you're trying to juggle writing an honest review whilst treading lightly on the feelings of a writer who may possibly help your career one day.
This is all well and good, but what oh what do I do with all these plot holes and character flaws that I see is books which gets my blood boiling and makes me want to jump into the book and kick some a$$? When I finish reading a book that I loathe, my immediate reaction is to go online to see if there are others who disliked it as much as I did. Thanks to book blogs, Amazon and Goodreads, there's usually no shortage of fuel for my fire. I think this is where I make my mistakes. Where I lose sight of being objective and begin to sink into the realm of 'this book sucks therefore the writer must be some blethering idiot and I am going to enjoy sinking my fangs into their book.' It's a condition that I am going to call critic-lust. That moment when something goes off in my head and I forget about the difficult writing journey and only concentrate on the unpalatable outcome. I have selective amnesia and the hours I spend agonising over plot points and character arcs, something every writer does, goes out the window. And as much as I hate to admit it, I enjoy having a good rant. It's liberating. Being a writer means putting your work out there and if you haven't developed a thick skin or learned to take criticism, you're going to have a hard slog ahead of you.
However. There's always a however! I think there are ways for writers to review books without succumbing to critic-lust. I may be a writer but I am also a reader. And I want to share my opinions with my fellow reader friends. I don't want to alienate anyone but I want to be able to be honest without fear or hesitation. So published writers...I'm sorry if what I say isn't what you want to hear. I will review your books as honestly and objectively as I can if you won't hold it against me. There are many things I will forgive in a book but I don't want to look up to whiny, stupid women or stalker guys and vapid friends. As much as I don't like the thought of pulling the rug from under myself later on, I detest the idea of having to stifle myself to keep it from happening. Feel free not to blurb me, I understand. I almost didn't read The Hunger Games because Stephanie Meyer recommended it. Go figure.