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Writing Life: Reviews

I have a weird relationship with reviews.

On the one hand, I’m a firm believer in the idea that creators create. It doesn’t matter what you’re creating. As the creator, it’s up to you to determine what it is you’re making.

It’s absolutely vital that you maintain ownership, that you don’t cede control of your art to your audience. In order to do that, you have to view all feedback as input.

You can’t be emotional about it. You have to treat reviews in the same way that you treat responses in a critique group: they’re simply opportunities to improve your craft.

As a writer, I want to know if something does or does not work. I can use that to continue to improve myself. Emotion just gets in the way of that sort of analysis.

On the other hand, how can I not respond emotionally to someone talking about what I’ve created? More to the point, I want to respond emotionally. I want to stay connected to my readers, and not just on an intellectual writerly level.

For me, writing is an emotional act. It’s exciting and frustrating and maddening all at once. I read aloud as I write. I laugh. I sometimes even cry (read The Boy With The Sword and you’ll understand).

I don’t want to detach my emotions from the process, not even when I’m reading the reviews.

So what do I do? Do I reject my emotional response, and focus on the intellectual gains to be made? Or do I jump on the roller coaster and feel every high and low that comes with it?

I think each of us has to answer that question differently. Some of us want to protect ourselves. We want to keep an even keel, and maintain a writerly distance.

Not me. I choose the roller coaster.


Posted October 24, 2019 in Writing
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