When People Don’t Like Your Work
At Beth’s Bookstore, I slipped a paperback from the shelf. I read the first line. That’s how I chose a book: the first line, then the first paragraph. Sometimes if I’m unsure, I continue further down the page. Then I either buy the book or I put it back.
I’ve been burned using this method—occasionally, a book doesn’t live up to the opening—but not often. This time, “The Revolution of Little Girls,” proved to be one of the funniest books I’ve run across in a while.
After I finished I went on-line to learn more about the author and the book. Because the book was published in 1991—before-on-line dominance—the Amazon reviews were sparse. Of the 9, 3 were negative. On Goodreads, the majority were 3 or below. The novel received enthusiastic reviews when it was released; it won awards. Many on-line commentors, however, did not like its “Southernism;” its structure (“jumps around too much”); or its resolution. To me, the major flaw of the novel was that, about 2/3s of the way through, it actually became too linear after the author had taught us to expect discreet, non-linear chapters.
I am so glad I had this experience. As a woman trying to get my Southern novel into the marketplace, I needed to see the negative reviews of a novel I thought was hilarious. This switches the question from, “Will they like it?” to “Do I like it?” Have I written exactly the novel I wanted to write? Do I love it more than Christmas? If so, then when others say, “Anh, not so much,” I understand they just have different taste. And that’s okay.
here’s to creative synthesis . . .