Sunday, September 03, 2006


I recently experienced an awkward moment. One of the listservs I belong to (which shall remain nameless) was engaging in a formal discussion of a novel (which will remain nameless). Not too many people took part in the discussion, which made what I said stand out even more.

As you may have guessed, I was the only commentor who wasn't wildly enthusiastic about the book. I wasn't witchie or anything. I just said that I found the book disappointing and felt it had two good storylines that were not well integrated.

Needless to say, no one agreed with me.

About a week later, the author of the book posted a message thanking everyone for their comments. It turns out she had joined the listserv around six months ago, and I missed it!!!

When I was younger, this kind of thing would have left me overwhelmed with regret and mortification. Now I just figure that there are so many, many lessons for me in this incident. Learn and move on.


Miriam said...

On the other hand, Gail, I did something similar recently on a listserv you're familiar with. The author responded to the list that he was actually glad that his presence on the listserv hadn't inhibited negative comments. (Though, like yours, my comment wasn't totally negative. I'm sure she took the good with the bad.)

When you read about your books on various blogs and listservs, I'm sure that you'd love it if you got nothing but rave reviews. We all would prefer that everyone loves our creative endeavors. But I also suspect that in the long run, you want to know what people REALLY think of them. After a while, all praise all the time means little, because it becomes suspect. So a little constructive criticism is usually a good and often welcome thing. I didn't get the feeling that the author in question was upset by a dissenting opinion. I admit that I sometimes find myself thinking twice about posting a comment when I know the author might read it. But at the same time, they should be aware what they may be in for when they sign up for these listservs, especially after reading them for a couple of weeks and getting a feel for the group. If they think they'll read things that make them defensive or self-conscious about their writing, it would behoove them to unsubscribe. It wouldn't be fair to the listserv members for authors to get upset about something written about their work when nobody is forcing them to be a witness to the comments.

For the record, though I didn't post my thoughts on the book, I also didn't love it to pieces, though I didn't dislike it, either. But I think other books are more worthy of the raves that this one got.

Gail Gauthier said...

Personally, I believe that it's important that people talk about my books at all. Just the fact that a reviewer (or group) believes my book is worthy of discussion is a positive thing. And if someone has reservations about my work, reservations that are carefully thought out, that might actually be of use to me in the long run.

Unfortunately, I can't speak for other writers!