Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Sticks, Stones, and Hatchet Jobs

Authors are told never to respond to bad reviews. Have you ever been tempted? How do you deal with negative comments? Pick a few irksome ones (anonymous of course) and let us know how you really feel … no judgment.

by Dietrich

Critics are to authors what dogs are to lamp-posts.” ~ Jeffrey Robinson

I can’t see an upside to dwelling on a bad review or negative comment, and there’s no reason on earth to respond to one. That’s just a surefire way to go from bad to worse. The way to respond is to brush it off and write more. In the time it would take to rant back, I could have written another page.

“Most of all, I believe in hardening yourself against opinion … There is one piece of advice I strongly urge: never demean yourself by talking back to a critic, never. Write those letters to the editor in your head, but don’t put them on paper.” ~ Truman Capote

Have I ever felt slighted by a negative comment? Show me a published writer who hasn’t. The best thing is to resist the urge to read them in the first place. Since I haven’t always heeded my own advice in that regard, I’ve learned to adopt a brick attitude and not take harsh words personally. I once asked an author buddy how she dealt with it, and she suggested what got her past a negative review was to pull up a good review and dwell on that for a while. Somebody else pointed out that the most famous books on earth have been criticized at one time or another, meaning we should all consider ourselves in good company.

“The important thing is that you make sure that neither the favorable nor the unfavorable critics move into your head and take part in the composition of your next work.” ~ Thornton Wilder

“Literary criticism can be no more than a reasoned account of the feeling produced upon the critic by the book he is criticizing.” ~ D. H. Lawrence

The point is, not everybody’s going to like what I write — I get that — and I’m okay with it. What matters is that I get up every morning and focus on the work in progress.


Brenda Chapman said...

Very well said and thanks for including all the sage advice from other authors. Bad reviews happen to everyone at some point it seems :-)

Susan C Shea said...

Dietrichj, Not everyone might like what you write (true of all of us) , but it seems a whole lot of Canadians do! Congratulations!

Dietrich Kalteis said...

Thank you both, Susan and Brenda.