By Kathie Shoop
The other night I was searching for a way to avoid revisions. This wasn’t hard to do with the internet at my fingertips. Through some convoluted path I can’t recall, I ended up reading Amazon.com reviews for some of my favorite books.
There are two books I like so much that every word I read makes me want to toss my computer into the Allegheny and if possible, rip any inclination to put words to paper from my brain or heart, or wherever the drive to write comes from because why should I bother writing if these two authors have already written my story and better than I ever will?
A lot of the reviews mirrored my thoughts and feelings toward the books. But I was shocked to read a good number of reviews were not only negative, they were scathing. Nearly word for word the negative reviews were the polar opposite of the positive ones. And mean, those things were mean.
Putting the tone of the angry, searing ones aside—what makes people say such incredibly rude things on a public forum deserves its own post—I learned a lot about the process of getting published.
What I learned was nothing new. I’d heard it before, but this time it became tangible—the notion that reading is subjective and the world rarely agrees that the same books are great.
I’m well aware everyone has their favorite authors and categories of literature and I know humor plays different to different ears, but when I started reading those reviews I never in a million years suspected people could think these great writers, are crap (not my word). But there it was.
I felt a surge of relief. Maybe the people who rejected me are wrong. It is just their opinion.
It’s not that reading the reviews let me off the hook for preparing the best manuscript possible (I did eventually get back to my revisions), but it was comforting to see even the published ones aren’t categorically praised by the everyday reader. These two authors, well respected, widely and well sold were told they can’t write for anything—that their work was unreadable, unworthy, the result of nepotism.
There will always be people who think I can’t write, that my stories aren’t well-done, that I single-handedly forced the earth’s temp to rise a degree from wasting trees on my book. But there will be the others who enjoy my work, find meaning in it, who smile while reading it.
Mostly, I learned that avoiding my future Amazon reviews will be top priority. No good can come from reading those bad-boys.