In the three writerly Rs, the third is Reviews. Relieved that it’s not ‘aRithmetic?’ Relief may not last long.
I’m thinking less about the anxiety of being reviewed than my struggle with reviewing others’ work.
The great blogger/author/former agent Nathan Bradford asked in one of his posts if authors lose the right to review. This brought a barrage of comments, (writers have few rights already) and started writers’ chat boards buzzing. I should add that the Great Nate used the word ‘casually,’ as in casually trashing for the sport of it. I’m not a casual enough person, so it didn’t apply to me. But it got me reflecting on my own policy for self when it comes to reviews.
I should add that I adopted these self-rules before I became an author, and a beneficiary or possible target. I have no illusions that my few reviews amount to a mound of beans, but what I put out there matters to me.
The first self-rule was that I will use my real name. Anonymity is too tempting a place to release the snakes. No hiding behind Medusa from Maine or New York Nymph, (don’t I wish) – not for me.
The second was that I have no need to post publicly so-so reviews. It’s of no significance that this book was all right but well just not that great, and the main character could have… You get it. To me only clear endorsements or clear warnings of a deceptive dangerous product warrant attaching my name to them. Since one star reviews could draw attention to an otherwise seriously flawed book, I have yet to post one of those. I’d probably have to be pulled by a nose-ring to do it. (This may be one reason I don’t have a nose-ring.)
The third rule was to write few reviews, because it can become a full-time job to read and review. I still have other things to do. (One look at my house will confirm this.) To this end- my reviews are short, more like back-cover blurbs. No-retelling the whole story and never ever giving away the ending. I may wax eternal in private conversations about books I’ve read, but public utterances are in the no-spoilers-zone.
These are my own guidelines from which I am sure to stray, because I’m not a good rule-follower.
And to any out there who find any suggestion of constraint placed on their speech/reviews ludicrous, feel free to review this right here. I feel strongly that public discourse should be civil and considerate, so I set my comments to be ‘subject to approval.’ Censorship? Yup. But know that I censor myself first.