No, I haven't taken leave of my senses, although I'm sure there are some who would argue that point. I'm making Thanksgiving dinner today, not to celebrate the actual holiday per se, but because my son Michael is home for a week, from Hawaii, and it's my chance to do it. The reason he's home isn't a happy one. He received emergency leave because his father is in the hospital, and they had to amputate his foot. But I'm very happy he's here.
Sure, the unknown is scary. Worrying about how you're going to survive without money. Wondering where that money is going to come from. Worrying about your kids and how they're going to make it in a world that seems to be going to hell. But making yourself sick about it doesn't do anyone any good, least of all yourself.
I count my blessings in the four children that love me, and mourn the fifth who wants nothing to do with me. So today, I'm having Thanksgiving, and counting my blessings all over again. Of course, the big meal isn't necessary, but it's nice, and I enjoy cooking, especially for my family.
Now, on to reviews.
Everyone likes to boast when they get a good one. Some cry when they get bad ones, or get angry and gnash their teeth, and swear that the reviewers are out to get them or something. But I have to tell you this - reviews don't really mean shit. Good or bad. They're one person's opinion. And I hate to tell you, they can be biased, either for or against the author, the publisher, the subject matter - any of a number of the ingredients that go to make up your book. Don't judge a book by a review, but use it as a guideline. I never read reviews before I choose to pick up a book - I look at the cover, read the blurb, and go inside to get an idea of the writer's voice and style. Some people are paid to give reviews, while others wouldn't give you a good one if you write the number one bestseller of all time, just because that's how they are.
Same with review sites. Some are scathing and vicious and in love with the sound of their own voices. Who cares what they think? Other than the ass-kissers who follow what they say, lemming-like, and think they're the end-all and be-all of literary knowledge. They aren't. Neither am I, and I'm a reviewer. I don't even pretend to be the best reviewer out there, and I'm certainly not the worst. Do I cushion my reviews? Maybe to the point where I'm not as scathing as I could be, sure. But what purpose does that serve? You can get your point across in other ways without deliberately hurting someone's feelings.
One of the worst places for looking at reviews is Good Reads, because there are a lot of vicious people there who'll give you a low rating just because they can, or because they don't like you. I had someone put me on their authors behaving badly shelves. What the hell does that even mean? In this case, it means I voiced an opinion on someone else's review. So I guess this person thinks authors should not do that. Oh well, I don't give a fuck. Last time I checked, I still live in America, and at least for right now, I have freedom of speech. Your placing me on your shelf doesn't affect a damn thing, just makes you look stupid. Of course, you didn't need my help for that.
But the same thing goes for good reviews too, no matter how you trot them out and wave them around and yell look what I got. There are reviewers out there who kiss ass too. And the good means little more than the bad, except for being an ego booster.
So, how can you benefit from a review? Well, when you talk to your friends and ask them their opinions on books and movies, how do you know which ones to listen to, and which have suspect taste? Because you know whose tastes are similar to yours, so you're more likely to listen. If you think your friend has good judgment and discerning taste, then let that be your guide. Not XYZ reviewer who tells you the sun rises and sets on this author. Check it out for yourself before you put down good money for anything.
I'm not saying don't be happy over good reviews, certainly not. They are a boost to the ego, to know that someone likes what you did. And all authors need that boost, heaven knows. But don't take the bad ones too much to heart, or get cocky over the good ones. Most people won't tell you what they think, even if they like it. That's why they're the silent majority.
The first person you have to please is yourself. The rest is gravy.
Until next time, take care!