| Konnichiwa! This week's subject is two-pronged: how much of YOU do you put in a review, and how do you deal with a hurtful response to one of your reviews? I also have my Tip of the Month for making reviews more helpful.
I decided to write about less-than-congenial reviewee responses after receiving a review for one of my poems from ESTyree . In the review, she said
"While I saw some things that would change if it was my piece, I am enough of an independent poet to have (recently) decided not to foist my ideas on others."
I inquired about this. She replied, "I have just in the last few days decided that maybe I'm not the foremost expert on poetry and that maybe people wouldn't want me to dissect their pieces. By all means, disillusion me on this!"
When pressed further, she confided,"Well, I had someone inform me (to my surprise and sadness) that it didn't matter what I knew about my own work or how many classes I had taken, they would write how they wanted and that was that."
Ouch. She was surprised and sad. Surprised because such a reply can feel like a
slap in the face. Sad, because her sincere attempt to offer advice, and maybe make a
connection with another person, was rebuffed. Have you felt similarly after being flamed
for offering your opinion? What if you are reviewing a piece, and you can think of a
suggestion or two that would improve the piece? You have a specific idea, maybe even
specific words that would make the piece have more of an impact on the reader?
Let's go back in time. It is Fall of 2002. My fellow college student and new friend Tigger thinks of Prancer has told me about a cool site called Stories.com. So I get out my old
journals, dust them off, and leaf through some of my writing. I convert some of my prose
into poems, and post them. When I received my first review, I was so excited! But to my
dismay, it was a long list of things that were wrong with my poem. I don't remember much of what he said, but I do recall him saying the poem was too long and needed to be trimmed. "The nerve!" I thought. He was just supposed to say he liked it.
As it was never my nature, I did not flame him. I just deleted the review as fast as possible. But some who feel offended hit "Reply" instead. As I told ESTyree , the person who flamed her has "an attitude problem, and I would like to hear him say that to an editor when he wants to get published." Come to think of it, why is he even on a site like this?
Let's return to the present time. One of my favorite pieces,
The suggestion was that if such-and-such was really happening (I don't want to give away the surprise), "there would be mass deaths around the world." The reviewer didn't tell me HOW to introduce it. But he did make this very specific suggestion about "mass deaths." And, it was like a lightbulb went off in my head. We were both tickled with the result.
In my five years on WDC, I have learned a lot about writing and about how this site can help you, if you are humble enough to let it. Don't take personally what those who may have not yet had this epiphany say to you. Continue to offer your opinion, as well as specific suggestions. Without the reviewer's suggestion, my story would not have been kicked up a notch. If you really feel you understand the theme of a piece, and what the author is trying to say, share, share, share.
This week we have a wonderful, top-notch, original, and unusual science fiction story. If you like Heinlein or Vonnegut, you will like this.
And show some love to ESTyree In this story, a young woman finds out about
her supernatural heritage when she goes to take over her grandmother's cottage in Ireland.
ASK & ANSWER
This months's question is: How do you respond to a response that is upsetting? Feedback on this topic and any others is always welcome.
TIP OF THE MONTH Don't spend so much time reviewing that you forget to write.
REVIEWING NL FEEDBACK FORUM Comments on ideas for a future
newsletter? All the editors and readers meet here. Join in!
"Feedback Central" by Lt. Storm Machine
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"Music moves us in a positive direction - physically, spiritually, mentally. It addresses the will to live. It saved my life." - Eddie Tuduri, quadriplegic drummer who started rhythm therapy to help others with disabilities.