Wednesday, February 9, 2011

the one where I'm talking to myself (as usual)

My daughter sent me a text at about 5 p.m. letting me know that she's returning here from her dad's tomorrow.

Did you hear my relieved laughter crack the walls of some fortified city on another planet?

Because her father and I don't have a custody agreement, we have to trust each other to do what's best for her, give her enough time with each of us, let her go when it's time to let her go.

Her father decided to let her decide when to leave him for me.

She's been with him for nine days, since Feb. 1, a long time in my eyes and heart, but she'd been with me for 14 before that.

I wasn't expecting her back here until the weekend, so my plans change. My mood, too, changes, of course, and if my body didn't hurt so much, I'd be skipping all over the house.

I need to learn how to balance myself better when my daughter is with her father. I'd be much more productive, much more beautiful, a much better person.

Well, I'll get there.

*

I've been reading stray blog posts tonight on book reviews, negative book reviews, to be exact. One author whined about a bad review she's received from a book blogger (the author who complained about the blogger's review is a romance writer. Honey, not all people think of romance as pink. I happen to think of it as a bleak, smudgy gray (I'm a fan of love, but romance has killed me). That pink font not only made me want to barf up my dinner, it also gave me a whopping headache). The blogger who wrote the bad review is not an author herself, but shares a site with other book lovers.

I don't want to offend or upset anyone so I'm not linking anywhere. I'm really just talking out loud to myself, realizing something about myself as both reader and writer.

OK, so, some day before I die, I'm going to finish my Lily novel and then the "Feathers" novel, and then I'm going to go back to "The Invisibles" (which has a different title, but I'm keeping it to myself) because I love that novel. And after that (or maybe before), I'll get to "Spattered" and then the really, really dark one that may mean I have to write more authentically (GAH! There's that word!) by traveling around for a bit on a Greyhound bus. Problematic since the older I get, the more I suffer from car/amusement park ride/small plane/bus sickness.

Once the first book is out in the world (and it will be out in the world because I say it will be. I may occasionally suck at follow through, but I rarely tell out and out lies, so I'm not lying when I say my book will be out in the world), I hope I'm so busy falling in love with my next book, polishing it, sharing it, that I don't have too much time to get suicidal over the inevitable negative book reviews the first book is sure to receive.

I have a friend who had a friend who wrote a complicated but beautiful book many years ago (it was a kind of a time travel book, art history-related). It was a difficult book. It sort of reminded of my attempts to read Umberto Eco or A.S. Byatt. Dense prose. Long, unbroken paragraphs. But I read and finished it. It wasn't a wonderful book, but I've read far worse, and it had a beauty that I can't quite articulate.

The author received a dreadful review from Kirkus Reviews (I think) and the snippet of a review posted on Amazon by Publishers Weekly is less than flattering and dwells on my friend's friend's "copious descriptions and ponderous prose."

I don't think J. went to bed for a week after the review, but my friend told me he withdrew, spiraled for a while into a depression.

I'm so thin-skinned that I'm certain the negative reviews I eventually will receive WHEN I get my book published (after I finish writing it, of course), will slam me into many metaphorical brick walls, metaphorical face first.

It will hurt.

I'll get over it.

It's inevitable.

As a reader, however, I'm happy for both positive and negative book reviews.

Sometimes I'll be in the middle of a highly acclaimed book that I know I'm supposed to love (like the one that included Turkey (the country, not the food) and poetry in the same story, two things I love), but I just ... don't. A review may have led me to pick up the book, but sometimes what I then need is to find a review that helps me to understand that I'm not an intellectually stunted, vapid, shallow dork for being unable to plow my way through something that makes me want to poke a sharpened pencil in my eye rather than read

one

more

word

It's always a relief to know that I'm not the only one.

In other words, as a reader, I find reviews helpful, even the bad ones.

As a person who hopes to be an author (is a writer) I dread the first reviews and hope I have the discipline NOT to read them

Oh, here's a confession: I haven't once been able to make it all the way through a Man Booker Prize winner's book (except for Possession).

I've been trying for years to figure out what's wrong with me. I've come to the conclusion that I am, indeed, intellectually stunted and shallow.

But, really, life's too short and there are too many books out there for me to feel obliged to keep reading something that makes me want to stab a sharpened pencil in my eye.

Let's just say it's not you (the writers of these beautiful books), it's me.

*

Lordy this is long.

*

I still have a headache, though it's a little better since I'm typing black words onto a white screen instead of pink on white with a pink border.

Here, I came to the blog post about bad reviews through Charlotte Rains Dixon's Twitter page.

*

Oh. I'm hearing noises outside my house. Probably a neighbor slammed a car door.

Either that or an icicle has just fallen from the porch over my patio roof and cracked the concrete.

Man, this winter just needs to end. Doesn't it?

1 comment:

  1. I loved this long post, it was like reading an imprint of your train of thought. Thanks for linking to me, and man oh man, the issue of bad reviews is an interesting one!

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