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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Writing Wibbles: Chomp?

So, there’s an interesting blog post out there.

Nora Roberts tells her critics: Bite Me.

Wow. Just wow. Apparently, someone left some silly (but rude) comments on her Facebook pages, and as they say around here, she “didn’t cotton to that.”
The reader is not my employer, my teacher, my mother. This is not my hobby, this is my profession, and in this profession I have an editor. I welcome her constructive criticism. I have an agent. I welcome hers. Readers, having those opinions that will vary dramatically from one to another? Not welcome. Not asked for. Not accepted. 
Because you use a sink do you get in the plumber’s face and advise him how to fix it? … If the plumber isn’t doing the job to your standards, find another plumber. …
A book doesn’t come with a suggestion box, and the writer is not obliged to sculpt a story to your specific needs. 
Readers read. Writers write. Readers can voice their opinions in appropriate areas, to their friends, to their bookclub and so on. But those who insist on coming into my spaces with their negativity are going to be called out for it.
A friend of mine on Twitter pointed to the blog post and said in effect, “Nora Roberts is the only woman writer who can get away with that… any other woman would have a shitstorm on her hands.”

Well hey, I’m a guy. I might as well use that male privilege thing for a good purpose for a change, right? So I’ll just say: I can see where she’s coming from. Even if I wasn’t writing my own stories, I’d get it. I’ve had people who know less than I do about something try to tell me how to get it done, whether it be fixing a pipe or running wires or what have you. There’s nothing that irks me more than someone who can’t, or doesn’t want to, do something but feels free to tell you how UR DOIN IT W0RNG.

But reviews? Reviews on review sites (or in the reviews section of a book page) are pretty much sacrosanct, and I think Ms. Roberts agrees in the last paragraph I quoted. Not everyone will like a story, and that’s okay. If everyone liked the same kind of story, then only one kind of story would ever get written. Reviews are (or should be) for other readers, to help them decide whether a particular story is going to suit. The common wisdom is “don’t respond to reviews at all,” and some writers don’t even read their reviews.

On the other hand, a writer’s blog (or Facebook page) is a place for writers and readers to meet and discuss. That “don’t respond to reviews” thing doesn’t apply on those spaces. Someone wants to get snippy with Nora Roberts in her space, and she has every right to respond.

There are other spaces where readers and writers can get together. I’ve actually had the most interaction with general readers (i.e. non-writers) in the forum on my Amazon author page. I certainly wouldn’t mind some (polite) back and forth here on the ol’ blawg, but I’ll take what I can get.

Where do you like best to interact with writers and readers? Floor’s open…

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