by Adriana Noir
The obsession we have with WDC's alluring purple stars.
|It has happened to the best and the worst of us. We’ve all had those shameful moments where we sit, staring at the screen and fuming in silence. It usually comes after opening our e-mail and racing to the reviews. Those items opened with trembling fingers and something akin to an erupting volcano building in the stomach. The first few words bring an exaggerated sigh of relief. The reviewer liked the story. The review continues with words of glowing praise. We hear about the plot, the flawless pace, the wonderful use of language, and the intriguing characters embedded in our story. Light capable of blinding distant countries radiates from our face. All is right in the world. Or is it?
The review ends, leaving us blinking in disbelief. After all the praise stating how outstanding our work was, how nothing needed fixed…we get a paltry rating. I’m not talking about a four-point-five or a four. No, not even a three and a half. After all, that is above average, and I can handle that, as long as I am told how to rise above it! What I am talking about is that measly three-something or less glares back at us with no given reason. It feels like a slap to the face, one hard enough to leave a permanent imprint. After the initial shock, shoulders slump and panicked defeat encroaches upon the previous joy. Questions build, nagging like a spiteful mother-in-law. One sounds loud above the rest. Why?
Why, if everything was so great, did the cause of our blood, sweat, and tears get such a low rating? Low ratings don’t bother me—but not knowing the reason behind it does. Tell me you don’t like my style, tell me my character has a lame name, tell me there was a missing period or comma, tell me you are having a bad day and felt the need to vent a little spleen—something to make sense of the madness.
I agonize about the reasons why my work is considered only average or less, if I am not given any. I don’t understand the reason for the rating, especially when those who had constructive criticism to give (which I followed) gave a much higher rating. Erasers get chewed off pencils. I glare at the computer as if it inflicted this torment. As the end of my rope nears, I pester family, friends, even neighbors…just to gain some small measure of understanding. Amongst a sea of four, four-point-five, and five star ratings, that three or lower strikes from the sky like an errant bolt of lightning. There are no answers for this painful phenomenon, but I know I am not alone.
The questions fade as I chew my lip in thought and dim realization settles in. I never see ratings inside book covers, but I do see plenty of reviews. What matters the most? The number of purple stars gracing an item or having satisfied readers? If a reader takes the time to write a review, they are telling you that item was worthy of reading. If they praise and encourage, if they say they can’t wait to read more, if you get the sense they really enjoyed your work—what do stars matter?
I leave these thoughts for my fellow writers to ponder. Listen to your reviewers. Listen, but take the broader spectrum of the comments and ratings into consideration. Sure, we all want five stars. Yes, they look pretty decorating our ports. But, what matters most is what is behind them. All that glitters is not…purple. It is the comments, encouragement, help, and praise we receive that is the real gold.