Sunday, April 10, 2016

On Bad Reviews and Writing the Scary Book Inside of Me

As a writer I have been fortunate in that the majority of people who review my books give positive reviews. Every now and then I get a negative one. This, in itself, does not bother me. Negative reviews are the price of art. Good art should come from an unfamiliar place and when it does it has the ability to exhilarate and shock the eye of the beholder. Because of this authors who are only getting positive reviews are doing something wrong, as strange as that may sound. Take any great book of literature and you will find many horrible reviews. "The Catcher in the Rye," one of my favorite little jewels of literature, has many one star reviews.

So not only do I expect the occasional bad review, but they are necessary if I am being true to my art form. The kind of review I hate the most--yes, even more than the "this was the worst book ever written"--are those that say "this is not what I expected." Read another way, the reviewer means this is not the book they wanted me to write.

Pardon, moi. I recently got a two-star review in such a way for Coffee with Poe: A Novel of Edgar Allan Poe's Life.

I need to write the book that's inside of me begging to get out; the one that nags at me while I'm sitting at the table having a holiday meal with my family while I stuff another piece of broccoli in my mouth; the one that talks to me at two in the morning when I'm having trouble sleeping.

I have no way of knowing what a random person I have never met will need to me write for them. Even if I had such a blueprint, I would not do it. I simply write the books I want to read and that will push the art form forward. I am not trying to sound cruel or be calloused. I can accept bad reviews. Ii really can. Please, try not to judge my books because they fail to be the book you wanted me to write.

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