Monday, 28 April 2014

The benefits of reading a bad book...

The benefits of reading a bad book...

I have been thinking about reviews as in a recent writing group one of the writers referred to the horror of receiving a one star review. I wanted to say that it happens, but I didn't and since then I have been mulling over this  'review' society that we now live in.  Recently I  read three books that have annoyed and bored me. At first I thought of all the hours I had wasted reading them. Then I remembered the benefits of reading a bad book. Years ago I read a best seller and I found the book so dull and annoying that I realised that all reviews are subjective. It was one of the first incidents in my life that made me believe in myself and it gave me the courage to pick up a pen and write a book.

But this notion of bad reviews is something that plagues all writers. Unless you already have the skin of a Rhino. Whilst I have read some reviews saying how well my first book was written, I have read others saying it was badly written. I myself, have mixed feelings about my first book- after all it was just that - a first book. I discussed this with H and surprisingly he was supportive. 'Would you rather not have published Goa Traffic'  he asked?  It was the right question. If you regularly read this blog you will know that publishing that book has taught me so much I would never regret publishing it. He then went on to remind me about how impatient I was when I did publish it. It kind of ruined the moment. But it made me think of my options. I have self published so I could remove it from public consumption and rework it before publishing it again. However, I see that as going back when all I want to do is move forward and the majority of reviews have been positive and it's selling well. In fact it's funding this writing hobby/sideline that I have going and I am hoping to put some of the profits back into various charities in Goa.  I have a full time job and other books to work on and perfect - will going over my first book  be any use? And if I do do that what am I saying to people who have read it and enjoyed it? Your review is not good enough? I don't like the idea of that! The only downside of not going back to make your work the best that you can, is the fear that it may put some readers off any future work. I've been wondering about this but I have come to this conclusion: In my opinion every author has a voice. An individual voice. Readers will like this or not. If they are unsure they may try a second book of yours. If they hate it they probably wont like much of your work even if you go back and change it because they don't like your voice/style. Yes my first book was littered with 'head hopping' and other no-no's that give writers nightmares, but that was me then. Will I always be judged by my first book? Maybe but then again maybe not. My current work in progress is very different to my first novel and they may be easier to read because of the realisations I have made along the way, but has my voice/style changed? I doubt it - underneath it all - my novels are still just my stories!

I do think that whatever you publish you should be proud to put your name to. But that pride can fade with time. Now, I am proud of The Bittersweet Vine - I have more confidence with this book but what happens in two years time when my writing improves further (because lets face it honing your writing skills is an on-going process)  and I am no longer as proud of it as I am now. Do I change my name and start again?

All authors will know we are our own worst critics. Art is subjective. If someone loves your work then chances are that someone will hate it also! As an author you have to accept that there will be some great reviews and some not so great reviews. To prove my point have a look on Amazon at some of your favourite reads. I can almost guarantee you that they will have received bad reviews as well as good. Don't even get me started on some of my favourite reads which have an average of 3 *'s when they blatantly deserve a 5! I guess as a writer or any artist for that matter you just have to take the rough with the smooth !

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