New writers are often advised not to read reviews of their work. The theory goes that reviews are for readers, not for writers who can do nothing whatsoever to make amends for whatever glaring faults the reviewer finds in their work. Worse yet, a few bad reviews–or maybe only one or two–just might dishearten the newbie author to such an extent that they wreak havoc on further creative endeavors.
What this well-meaning advice neglects to address is how a new writer, or even a well-established author with numerous publications to their name, is supposed to resist the siren call of the review. In my own case, for the longest time, I wouldn’t even admit to reading reviews of my work because I thought it showed a character flaw. Over time, I came to see that a great many writers, maybe even most of us, do read published reviews of our work. I suppose we could justify doing so on the grounds that it’s nonsensical for us to be the only ones who have no idea what professional reviewers are saying about our body of work. A lot of us also read Amazon and Good Reads reviews written by readers. Again, it seems to make sense to find out what our fans, no matter how numerous or how sparse, think of our stories.
There’s another reason to read reviews. Writing is, inescapably, a solitary profession for long chunks of time. It can also seem frustratingly like casting one’s work into a black hole from which not a solitary ray of feedback escapes. Who wouldn’t want to hear something?
Besides, there are times when that feedback can be extraordinarily gratifying. Take for example, Rich Horton’s review of the my own story, “Conservation of Mismatched Shoes,” in the July 2019 issue of Locus. It’s his favorite story in the issue! Mark me down as thrilled. Thrilled, I tell you! This isn’t simply a matter of basking in his kind words. My reaction has everything to do with the fact that while writing this one, I really struggled to portray the teenage protagonist and her older brother. Rich Horton deemed it “[a]n honest story, convincingly characterized.”
I intend to keep on reading those reviews!
Hope you can come see me and other talented writers at Balticon this weekend in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Here’s my schedule. Also, I’ll be reading from “Conservation of Mismatched Shoes,” that just appeared in Amazing Stories.
Friday, May 24
6pm – 6:55pm
What are Literary Awards?
Friday May 24
9pm – 9:55pm
Readings: Burke, Cooley, Smith
St. George Room
Saturday, May 25
6pm – 6:55pm
Gender in Genre
Sunday, May 26 Friday
2pm – 2:55pm
Just How Many People Live in Your Fantasy City, Anyway?
Mount Washington Room
Monday, May 27
1pm – 1:55pm
Writing Interactive Fiction
Pride of Baltimore II Room
By which, I am thrilled to announce my debut in issue 3 of the revived Amazing Stories. Kudos to Steve Davidson (the driving force) and Ira Nayman (astute editor) for publishing some fine short stories in the first three new issues of Amazing Stories.
Seeing my story, “Conservation of Mis-Matched Shoes,” in this revitalized magazine feels like an alternate universe. Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. You see, the story is about navigating the multiverse. Hope you’ll give it a read!