When I wrote about my frustrations last week, nothing was further from my mind than reviews, yet it’s all people talk about

When the first comments began rolling in last week, I thought people were joking. I was talking about my frustration last week, the fact that I spend months as author to craft the words of a book, only to see it reduced to a couple of hours of entertainment for my readers. My need to talk about the book, or to at least gain an understanding of how readers receive it was almost unanimously (you can read the comments that were left here, on the blog) interpreted as requests for reviews. My words failed me.

I was surprised, because when I wrote the post, I didn’t think about reviews, honestly. I think my position on reviews is pretty clear: I don’t like them much. I’m frustrated by reviews who give away the book in what many reviewers feel is a great summary, I am hurt by reviews that try to find “me” in the book, attack me personally or completely miss the point of a story. Yes, like any author, I understand the need for, the value of reviews. No argument, and when we send out ARCs, we are very much aware that there will be reviews, good ones, bad ones. It’s a fact of life, that not every book is for everyone. That is reflected in the reviews. Duh! I still don’t read them, unless someone sends it to me specifically, and those are never bad ones (unless said reviewer is particularly vicious. LOL) My words failed me.

Sometimes a reader will contact me (okay, it’s happened quite a few times) to talk about their experience reading the book, how the story affected them. That is how I feel, too. Just because I put down the pen doesn’t mean I’m done. I feel the need to talk about how painful certain aspects of a book can me, how a character’s suffering or growth has affected me. It’s no different than reading a book myself, how the characters affect me. I remember reading Erin Finnegan’s Luchador several months ago. I still have that book lurking in the back of my mind, how she takes the concepts of “manliness”, “gay” and throws them into a dryer and tumbles them until they come out all warped and twisted. Her discussion of masculinity and the concepts of gay vs straight is some of the best writing ever, and I still think about that, almost daily, our preconceptions as gay men, as much as the preconceptions in the straight world.

I had a short takeover of a Facebook group last night, by invitation of SA Collins. And he and I discussed LGBT (he prefers the term ‘queer’) fiction and how our stories often deal with things from our own existence. Mind you, this doesn’t mean you have to understand who we are as human beings to understand the book (quite the contrary), but just as some people deal with their demons by running around the forest, or punch a bag in a gym, authors deal with their demons through writing. And just because I write “the end” doesn’t mean that I’m done. I may need more time to reflect upon it, understand what happened, because just because the book is over doesn’t mean I’m done. There is, after all, a difference between the author and the human. Yet last Friday, my words failed me.

This isn’t easy to put in writing, as my failure to express my emotion last week clearly shows. And the frustration comes from that fact, in part. But it’s also funny when you talk to someone about a story for months and months, and when they’ve read it, knowing just how important it is to you, all you get back is a “it’s great. Loved it.” Inside me, I’m screaming “what else? what did you take away from it? What do you think was his/her driving force? Why did they act the way they did? etc.” But no, no review… Although, I’ll grant you that a good review might answer at least some of those questions. But still, it wasn’t reviews I long for, but human conversations, debate. But I guess my words failed me.

So, here’s another post that probably makes no sense to anyone but me… Have a wonderful week!

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Hans

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