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Authors Who Don't Think

Alisa Krasnostein (girliejones), the woman behind ASif, a review site dedicated to Australian Spec Fic, gets some fabulous email. Check out this from a disgruntled author:

"Then there are the critics. Over-educated, fear ridden types, so full of other people's ideas they have never once held an original idea. They gather together in collections of the tortured, reading the works of others. Knowing with resigned certainty that they are destined to spend the remainder of their days watching life from the sidelines.

Please hold this thought close to your mind: The only reason writers bow before swine is to grab a comment for the back of their novels. You have absolutely no other purpose on this earth."

Don't you just love that?

It amazes me that someone sent this email, or even that they thought that writing it would result in anything other than being laughed at, and then ridiculed. Really.

Now, me, I'm not one of those people who subscribes to the whole Never Argue with a Review philosophy, but there's a way to do it, and a way not too, you know? I've been on both sides of the fence, and I don't mind when people want to discuss a review, though I often have little to say about people who review my stuff, negative or positive--though this probably has more to do with the usual couple of paragraphs I'm given with short fiction. Maybe I'll find more to say with books. Who knows? But reviewers aren't perfect, neither are authors, and so the whole thing has a bit of give and take, at least in mind.

However, calling the reviewer (or editor of the review site) a swine is, shockingly enough, not the way to do things. And you should be careful what you say, really, because people will remember it, and people will send the email around, sharing it like naked pictures of people they went to school with.


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Oct. 18th, 2006 04:55 am (UTC)
Do you think he called me, specifically, a swine? Cause maybe I should be *more* insulted.
Oct. 18th, 2006 05:00 am (UTC)
i think it was a general swining.
Oct. 18th, 2006 05:03 am (UTC)
Cause you know, it's less funny if I'm the swine.
Oct. 18th, 2006 05:10 am (UTC)
nah, general swine, i believe.
Oct. 24th, 2006 05:06 am (UTC)
I think you're making a mistake to suppose he refers to a single swine.

The swine are, of course, plural, and refers to all reviewers, particularly those involved with ASif, including you. :)

I wonder if Locus get emails calling them swine?
Oct. 24th, 2006 05:19 am (UTC)
well that's a totally different story if he thinks he's calling ME swine!
Oct. 18th, 2006 05:03 am (UTC)
I always thought one bowed before swine to snatch pearls, not to garner compliments on the shapeliness of one's arse.
Oct. 18th, 2006 05:11 am (UTC)
apparently it's to show off that big ol' hole these days that we bow before swine
Oct. 18th, 2006 05:15 am (UTC)
It's not my fault if you haven't been doing your butt-clenching exercises.
Oct. 18th, 2006 05:55 am (UTC)
Some people just think their monologue is always to be preferred to a conversation.
Oct. 18th, 2006 07:56 am (UTC)
...that kinda sums up the whole blogosphere, right there ;)
Oct. 18th, 2006 06:19 am (UTC)
You think that's bad. On one of the writing forums I'm on one writer called her editor a lazy idiot because there were a few typos in her book. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you!
Oct. 18th, 2006 07:55 am (UTC)
there's a few typos in every book, i reckon. was it a major publisher?
Oct. 18th, 2006 12:27 pm (UTC)
No. T'was an e-romance publisher.
Oct. 18th, 2006 09:45 am (UTC)
Didn't she get page proofs? Why didn't she correct the typos on the page proofs, if they upset her so much?

I mean, heck, my publisher isn't a very good outfit (yes, I shamelessly admit that), and even I got page proofs.
Oct. 18th, 2006 10:40 am (UTC)
I hold strongly to the belief that it is a rare document that is over a page in length and completely devoid of typos. It's easier to accept this and move on, concentrate on fixing the most obvious typos and hope the others slip past the reader too.
Oct. 18th, 2006 12:28 pm (UTC)
That was our point. She's the one who wrote the typos in the first place...
Oct. 18th, 2006 12:14 pm (UTC)
I thought that's what the tedious idiocy of going over galley proofs was for? To torture writers into correcting all of their original typos that the editor didn't catch?

Of course I've been remarkably lucky with my editors in that respect, but I know not every author is.
Oct. 18th, 2006 07:27 am (UTC)
I always feel like an over-educated fear-ridden swine watching from the sidelines when I review but then I remember, I never finished high school and the only thing I fear is public speaking so I'm better off on the sidelines.

I've also never had a review that upset me and I've been called cheap and fluffy... how uncontroversial and unemotive! Not good enough on the bad review front at all.

Anyone want to see naked pictures of the people I went to Clarion with?
Oct. 18th, 2006 07:54 am (UTC)
don't you fucking dare!
Oct. 18th, 2006 09:47 am (UTC)
Oi! That's enough of that, thank you! Move along, people, nothing to see here.

(You don't really have naked photos, do you? Not NAKED naked, surely? I'm sure I still had undies on. So did the ladies. Not sure about Haines, though.)
Oct. 18th, 2006 10:12 am (UTC)
Ahem... I do believe that statement is more incriminating than mine! Up until you said that everyone thought I was making it up.

Ben? You're ruining your metaphor!
Oct. 18th, 2006 12:12 pm (UTC)
i'm frightened is what i am!
Oct. 18th, 2006 10:30 am (UTC)
Oh, reviews sting. No doubt about it. (Particularly if it's not your fault: it really sucks when a reviewer states that they couldn't enjoy the story because two climax pages were printed from the other issue O_o)

But at some point, one must decide if he wants to be a professional and conduct himself as such or if he wants to be a rude pompous windbag. Personally, I don't have enough talent to be rude. :slaps Easy To Work With label on her forehead:

PS. Besides, one cannot argue with review by definition. You cannot tell somebody else what to think about what you wrote. You can point out gross inaccuracies, but that's about it.
Oct. 18th, 2006 12:19 pm (UTC)
yeah,t he problem with arguing with reviews is that, well, what are you going to get? a second review? that's if you perform the miracle and make a reviewer suddenly realise your a genius, or jesus.
Oct. 18th, 2006 12:33 pm (UTC)
but its also just there opinion - I think Dan Brown's Da Vinci codes is shit - i think its really crap writing but what the hell does he care what I think? he's on the NY bestseller list
Oct. 18th, 2006 10:46 am (UTC)
Some more comments:

"Critics are like eunuchs in a harem; they know how it's done, they've seen it done every day, but they are unable to do it themselves."- Brendan Behan

"Asking a working writer what he feels about critics is like asking a lamp-post what it feels about dogs."- John Osborne

"Pay no attention to critics; a statue has never been raised to a critic."- Hillaire Belloc

Personally I think this fellow you're knocking is simply carrying on the proud tradition of the artistes withering contempt for those who do not appreciate their work & I for one would like to read his books.
Oct. 18th, 2006 12:11 pm (UTC)
man, all your quotes just really reinforce why you shouldn't write a letter like that one.

but, personally, you want to read the dude's book, knock yourself out. a lotta stuff gets published every year--i'd rather spend my time on something a bit more interesting than some dude's vanity project.
Oct. 18th, 2006 12:24 pm (UTC)
Funny though that I get the greatest respect from the greatest writers - certainly shows where professionalism and respect for other people will get in life. Even when they get negative feedback, they kindly thank me for the review.

Thing is - critics are also book buyers and you don't want to piss off the people you wanna flog your stuff to.

Oct. 18th, 2006 01:10 pm (UTC)
I reacted to a review once. It was a review about Berserker: The Wild Hunt. The reviewer took a bonus text page to pieces, in which I described the origin of the story and the approaches that I eventually discarded, but didn't say a single word about the comic itself. Instead, she looked at the steps that I discarded and treated them as if they had been the story. So I wrote that it's interesting to note her comments on approaches to the story that I discarded, but it would have been more interesting to read a review on the story that was published.
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