|Photo courtesy of morgueFile.com.
As you *cough* might be aware, my debut novel, In a Fix, came out last month.
All right, yeah. I may have mentioned it here, as well as a few hundred other places in cyberspace. Sorry if it got boring, but it's hard not to dwell on what's preoccupying you. I did cut back on my blogging in order to spare you complete overload, though. (You're welcome.)
By the way, I'm going to stick to the reduced blogging schedule for now--once, sometimes twice, a week instead of the three I was doing before. I think that's probably enough to stay in touch while still allowing me time for other writing. Like, yannoh, books. Besides, it was either cut back on my own blogging or else severely curtail my visits to all of your blogs, and I'd really miss reading them.
But now to the point of this post: reviews. And asses.
Please note that I am by no means saying that reviewers are asses. Well, not all of them, anyway. (Er, sorry. That just slipped out.)
When In a Fix first ventured out into the Great Big Reading World, it was kind of an adjustment to realize people really were reading it.
People I didn't know from Adam. People who didn't know me. Not only that, but they were getting all judgy about it. Huh. The nerve.
Okay, okay...reviews happen. It's normal. It's natural. It's to be expected.
Still, it's kind of a shock to when it actually happens to you. Sometimes it's a good shock, like when a reader waxes effusive with the praise. (Yeah, I love those--who wouldn't? I'm human.) Sometimes it's a punch in the gut, like when a reader not only doesn't enjoy your literary effort, but takes the time to go into painstaking detail--sometimes even illustrating it with pictures!--about all the ways it sucks. (Yeah, those sting. See above--human.)
But, good or bad, I figure at least it means people are reading. In that sense, all reviews are "good." (Er, not to be all Pollyanna-ish or anything, but I do happen to believe this.)
Anyway, here's where the ass comes in. No, not the negative reviewer. I'm referring to Aesop's ass. (Not that ass either. Though I'm sure it was a very fine one. I hear he worked out.) I mean Aesop's donkey. The one from his fable.
You remember that one, right? A man (in some translations it's a farmer, in others a miller) and his son are traveling to market with their donkey. They pass some people who comment on what fools they are for walking when they might be riding. So the man tells his son to get up on the donkey.
The next person they pass grumbles about how awful it is that the strong young man rides while his poor old father wears his life away walking. So the father tells his son to get off and let him ride instead.
Naturally, the next person remarks on how terrible it is for the father to ride while he makes his poor son walk. So the father tells his son to jump up behind him, and (of course) the next comment is from someone who notes how cruel it is to abuse the poor donkey by overloading it, saying something to the effect that they could carry the donkey more easily than it was carrying them.
So (you see where this going, right?) the father and son get off the donkey and pick it up, and between them attempt to carry it over a bridge. The uncomfortable donkey begins to kick, and they drop it into the water below, losing it for good.
Moral of the story: It is futile to try to please everyone.
EDITED TO ADD: In case you missed this down in the comments, Diane Henders offered up an alternative moral, one that I like even better: "If you plan to carry the burden of everybody else's expectations, sooner or later you'll have to bend over and kiss your ass goodbye". Brilliant, huh? Thanks, Diane!
Which I think is a pretty good thing to remember when you're reading reviews.
For the writers among you, I hope you'll just keep riding your donkeys the best way you know how, and take with a grain of salt* any commentary on your riding technique.
*Sometimes it helps if the grain of salt is on the rim of a margarita glass. ;)
EDITED TO ADD: I'm being interviewed today over at Book Brats. (Isn't that the best name for a blog? I love it!) Stop by and say hi if you get a chance! You know, so they don't think nobody loves me.)