Lucky for me the past 5 years haven’t been entirely wasted. Here’s some things I’ve learned since I first published.
Constructive criticism is okay, but you’re a bitch if you’re just being cruel.
When an author/writer/film maker puts out their work in a public domain it is generally accepted it is fair game for ridicule and criticism. I guess if you’re a reviewer you have every right to say whatever you like about it, but hey, how about realising there’s a real human being behind the production of these works – with real feelings. I was lucky enough to have some really awesome book bloggers who reviewed my book and even though they had both positive praise and criticism, they always made that criticism constructive and it didn’t hurt a bit. I took a good look at their concerns and I’ve been working on doing better ever since.
You know the types of reviews I really hate? Those bitchy ones with all the gifs where ‘reviewers’ rip the author a new one, are intentionally nasty and personal and think they are really funny to all their adoring readers. If you forget the author of the work might see that review, yeah they’re pretty funny, but really, when you think about it, those reviewers are reminiscent of that band of mean girls you knew at school who enjoyed making fun of some poor unfortunate sucker they deemed uncool. Those ‘reviews’ try to be as bitchy and ‘hilarious’ as possible. I wouldn’t even call them a review – they’re just nasty.
I don’t laugh at them anymore. Any wonder, a couple of years ago Stephanie Meyer was quoted as saying ”I get further away [from Twilight] every day. I am so over it. For me, it’s not a happy place to be.” Who wouldn’t be tired of hearing bitchy lines such as ‘still a better love story than Twilight’ about your work? Plenty of people liked her books, but plenty of people hated them – and they weren’t backward in letting her know. She might have made squillions with the series, but I bet that criticism of a work she put plenty of time, energy and creativity into really hurt. If someone who’s created something tells you criticism doesn’t bother them – they’re lying. You may feel as a reviewer you’re entitled to say anything you like, but as a human being, maybe it’s better to think about how you word stuff. So I try to be nicer now – particularly if my comment is a public one and could come to the eyes and ears of the creator.
Don’t rest on your laurels.
I re-edited Starcrossed: Perigee this past weekend, taking into account some of the points people had made about the non-American terms I’d used which apparently jarred people out of the story. Some lovely American people are helping me with that. As I was going through the first part of the book I realised I could have written things so much better so I tightened up my writing and I was amazed to find that study and research really paid off. I feel like I’ve really improved as a writer and it can only get better. So my advice – and this goes for any subject – is keep studying and improving. You might think you’re really good but you’re going to be so much freakin’ better with more years under your belt doing whatever it is you like to do.
No matter how dark your days are – it is only temporary
As I said before, these days depression is rampant and it seems so many people are getting it. If you are one of those people who, like me, sat on the couch and wished for oblivion, I can tell you categorically – it will get better. You could be told that until you’re blue in the face and you won’t believe it while you’re depressed, but just know that I, and many people like me, have been there, done that, and we’ve come out at the other end. It won’t happen unless you help yourself though. So ask yourself ‘do I want to be sad for the rest of my life? Or do I want to be happy?’ I’m pretty sure most people would choose the ‘happy’ option. Happiness won’t drop into your lap though – you need to chase it, make that decision to choose happiness, get off the sofa, and find the real you who wants to embrace life as a gift rather than a burden.
I have more to say but I’m typing this outside under lovely blanket of fairy lights hanging from our new pergola. Sounds lovely I know, but the downside is the mozzies have come to haul me away. So I’ll sign off now. To anyone who happens to come and read this – thank you for sticking with me 🙂