I’m climbing up on my soapbox today, so if you’re looking for funnies you’ll probably want to skip back to Sometimes Words Fail Me. I’ll return to my regularly scheduled silliness on the 29th.
I just finished reading a blogger’s vitriolic review of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight. I don’t know Ms. Meyer and I’m not a Twilight fan, but…
The blogger eviscerated Twilight with razor-like precision. And then she got out her chainsaw and her hobnailed boots and waded into the remains, leaving a bloodbath in her wake. It was brutal and ugly.
It made me sad.
I believe negative reviews are valuable. They help create realistic expectations for our potential readers while steering away the people who aren’t likely to enjoy our work. We learn from criticism and become better writers because of it.
That said, even an objectively-stated negative review rips out little pieces of an author’s guts and cauterizes the wounds with a small, fierce flame. We accept that as the price of admission. We put on our big-kid underwear in the morning, and we go out knowing that getting knocked down is part of the game.
But a blistering, hate-filled attack drains the lifeblood from our hearts and the joy from our souls. And it’s pointless, except maybe to provide some twisted satisfaction for the attacker. Abusive screaming isn’t an effective teaching method. It doesn’t make us better; it just makes us bleed.
I wonder if this blogger stopped to consider Stephanie Meyer while she was writing her rant. Not ‘Stephanie-Meyer-The-Bestselling-Author’; just Stephanie Meyer, a human being with same desire for respect and acceptance as everyone else.
Imagine what it’s like to be told that the product of your heart and soul; the result of your weeks/months/years of effort and sacrifice and self-doubt and triumph… is worse than garbage. Should never have been allowed to exist. Deserves to be ridiculed and held up as a shameful example.
Ms. Meyer has thousands of glowing reviews to soften the sting, but I can’t help thinking about a debut author receiving that venomous review on the day she lost her ‘real’ job and the car died and her teenager screamed “I hate you!”
Maybe that blogger is a reasonably nice person who got carried away and simply didn’t stop to think about the author (and fans) who might be hurt by her words.
Or maybe she’s a bully making a pathetic and cowardly attempt to elevate herself by trampling another human being beneath her feet.
I hope it’s the former.
I don’t expect to like everything I read, and I don’t expect everyone to like what I write. Poisonous reviews have been a reality since the first caveman daubed some mud on a rock wall and his neighbour yelled, “What the hell is that crap?” (Or maybe it sounded more like ‘Ug poo-poo!’. I’m guessing here.)
I’m certainly not suggesting we should suppress negative reviews to protect authors’ poor, fragile egos. That would harm both readers and writers.
But it makes me sad when I read such deliberate cruelty.
Why inject more ugliness into the world? Isn’t there enough already?