Yes, yes, it’s true! Another guest blogging day! Below is a post from my dear friend June H. who is not only a talented writer (as evidenced by the below article and the sample chapter of her novel found at her blog) but a great person for a boost in self-esteem via blog comments who offers very good constructive criticism … oh but that is discussed in her article. I’ll not exhaust the topic.
Enjoy all, and thank you, June!
“Your book is trash,” a reader says. Your reaction?
My story embodies almost all that I am, for it contains many of my beliefs, opinions, thoughts, life experiences, and emotions. I spend hours pouring myself into my writing. I know that fiction is fiction, that everything I write has been spun up from my imagination, but it’s started from somewhere. As I always like to say: Nothing can come from nothing. Everything I write is based on something true in me. For example, Amanda Hollingworth, my heroine, is a prostitute (well, she was, until an agent requested me to change her into a brothel maid) who is ashamed of herself, who doesn’t feel like she belongs to this world. She is an outcast. Now, I’ve never experienced anything to this extreme, of being hated and shunned by society. But I’ve felt and observed enough to spark that imagination of mine to experience the extreme inside my imaginary world. Then there’s my hero, Lord Candover, who cannot help but change from one lover to the next, easily tiring of them. In my story, I do not condemn him for his philandering, but pity him, because I understand him. I’ve never had a “lover” and probably am too soft-hearted to switch partners so readily. But I know how transient emotions are. I know I can love my family one day and resent them the next. I know I can be so eager to befriend a person but, upon seeing a flaw in them, quickly wish to distance myself. It is a universal truth that human beings can be very fickle.
There you see: everything I write comes from somewhere inside of me, be it from my mind or heart. It then takes hours after hours after hours to transcribe everything into words. Therefore, if someone were to read my story and say to me that it had no redeeming qualities, that it was stupid, that was is trash—this becomes a very personal affront I can’t easily wave off. This person is criticizing who I am. After years of writing and having my work critiqued, I have a somewhat strong backbone (I think…it has yet to be really tested), so a cruel criticism will not break me…but it will hurt and haunt me.
For this reason, I decided to make it one of my goals not to criticize writers if I don’t plan on being constructive and polite about it. By all means, if you hate a book, express your views–but back up WHY you disliked the book with solid evidences, be professional about it (i.e. Don’t say: ”I HATE the DAMN book!!!!!” But be eloquent. Say: “I was disappointed with this book. But this is my subjective opinion”), and if you’re really nice, point out some redeeming qualities. Always remember: You may not like their writing, you might not like their theme, you might not agree with many of their values, you might think their book should never have been published—but even these writers deserve my respect. I, for one, know how much of themselves they’ve put into their work. I know how difficult it is to write and revise a novel. And I know how difficult it is to get published. So whenever I plan on writing a review for a book I hated, I try to remember the story behind the story, the person behind the words. And the fact that I’m an unpublished author. It is therefore not a wise idea for me to go about flaming published books publicly–especially on blogs–because it doesn’t look professional. Anything unprofessional is a turn-off to agents, I hear. And yes, agents you query to do search you up. I speak from first-hand experience.
June H. is the author of The Runaway Courtesan. She is currently awaiting the response of an agent who requested her full manuscript…twice (the original and then the rewritten version). When she is not working on her next book, she can usually be found at a book shop, searching for a Great Love Story to read and analyze. You can follow her on Twitter or through her blog.