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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Matters concerning the Negative Review I got for Small Worlds: A Miscellany

I am no longer bitter about this. I have refrained from posting about it here before I was ready to.

Here is the review I got for my short story collection, Small Worlds: A Miscellany most recently:

As you can see, my first collection of stories missed the mark somewhat. Perhaps I should apologise for my crimes against literature, but I have learned three things from the experience of how one review, no matter how constructive its criticism, can propel a young artist into a pit of despair:

1: It seems that I would make a good writer for Saturday Morning Cartoon shows. Initially I was insulted by the remark: "Most of the stories read like scripts for a Saturday morning cartoon (and I think they would make great cartoons).", but I learned after clarification from the author of this review on the social networking site I use, that this remark was not meant as an insult. It was my fault that I reacted badly to it. This person was only trying to help me, and my experience with Yoram Gross cartoons in my youth had left me with a mediocre understanding of what Saturday Morning cartoon shows could be. (Yoram Gross is the guy who made the Blinky Bill cartoons, but since then he has unleashed more horrors onto Australian children's minds than anybody else, his Flipper and Lopaka show was so bad that you wondered how he got away with it. Tabaluga on the other hand, that was a great show!)

2: Art cures Art. The best thing you can do, after recieving a negative review, no matter what creative field you work in, is to create something. It may sound against your bruised muse to say "I will move on, inspire me, Calliope", but creating something new is as good a cure for review related depression as you can get. Even if that thing you have made to cure your injured ego is recieved poorly, create more Art, and always do so. If you were born to do it, you must do it, or you will die in a miserable state of regret.

3: People are forgiving. You must forgive them also. You must be forgiving to your critics, as Jesus was. I know "What Would Jesus Do?" sounds lame and contrived coming from a guy who writes Fantasy books with multiple gods and goddesses in them, but I am a religious man, as I have seen things you wouldn't believe. Jesus didn't just die and come back, he also dealt with many critics himself. His critics said things like "He has Beelzebul in him!" and "Only God can forgive sins!", but he died for them anyway, and while he was doing his thing in his pre-crucifixion days, he never yelled at a critic without a righteous anger. I know I'll get angry letters from my atheist friends and readers, but I am less ashamed of my beliefs than I used to be, and I am able to use a basic knowledge of the Bible, forced on me in a Ministry and Leadership class I only took to get the extra HSC unit, to illustrate my points. But although I am a religious man, I also believe in a mixture of sacred, and secular teachings. Secular teachings, like Jane Austen's proverb: "First impressions are often misleading". A negative review often contains advice, but a bad review, often confused with a negative review, deliberately sets out to attack you. Most wise reviewers do not write bad reviews, negative ones are given, if they feel the work deserves some pointers on prose or style or artform, but rarely, unless Ego becomes a monster, do they deliberately attack you.

So that's my discourse on the Negative Review. I'm off to study now, I'll post again soon!

- Jacob Martin
AKA TeenAuthor

1 comment:

Adam said...

Ah yes the review!
We artists are a strange bunch, we love to work in solitude, but crave the attention of others.
We call our work personal, but then seek out others reviews.
We thrive on attention, but are destroyed by a negative response. But all that is necessary for us to create what we create.
When it come to being reviewed I really dont let it get to me, firstly I remind myself that I am not trying to please everyone, leave that to game show hosts!
Then I look for actual points that I can agree with in the review, perhaps I am too close to see them myself while creating the work.
If I find any I make a mental note of it, and put it on the back burner, i then immediately begin to write or create a new piece, once done with that I return to the other piece and re-evaluate.
Remember your work is personal, a review is an interpretation, the reviewer and reviewed are not in the same state of mind, thus the work will always look different to each party, regardless of it being positive or negative.
With my book I am writing online in my blog,(unfolding pages) I have had a bunch of great feedback I have also had a ton of negative feedback coming in the form of people spending less than a minute reading my blog, its all good, I still write for the joy I get from it.