This blog will touch on the experiences I have as a writer (not to be mistaken for my experience as a writer, i.e. how many books I've written, etc); the pleasure and the pain, the joy and the grief, the satisfaction and the frustration, the magic and the reality - have I left anything out, oh yeah, the rejection, rejection and more rejection, the humiliation and the embarrassment, the jealousy and the resentment - that pretty much covers it, except for why I do it which perhaps I'll realize along the way. Are you totally confused? Good, let's begin.
I was about to review The Cat’s Table, by Michael Ondaatje when I discovered this work already has 352 reviews on Amazon. Does Michael need another review? Will my comments make a difference to this internationally known, winner of every major literary award, Canadian literary icon?
I know an author that would like to see his novel(s) reviewed – me. Or someone like me. Someone at the beginning of his or her writing career when a review and a starred rating are actually worth something, perhaps in sales and certainly in self-esteem.
So why not read works written by authors like myself and write a review of their book instead of a book by the Michael Ondaatje’s of this world? There’s certainly lots to choose from and many of these books are free on sites like BookLikes, StoryCartel, even Smashwords and Amazon.
Just a second, that could mean reading a lot of bad writing. Am I up to that kind of sacrifice to help promote new literary voices?
I believe an author should read the same type of books he wants to writes. Why read westerns when you write commercial/literary fiction? Why read amateurs when you want to be a pro?
Nietzsche said, “The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.” If I want to create great art, perhaps I should be a little more gracious. Probably good for my karma as well.
Okay, how about half of what I read will be from new, undiscovered writers and the other half from someone I aspire to write like?
I can’t see any point in writing a dishonest review. There’s likely at least a few on most new writers book pages as it is – family and friends guilted into posting something flattering and hitting five stars. I’m not sure how that helps them and I won’t be doing that.
I’ll write constructive reviews. I think I know enough about this craft to point out what the author is doing right and perhaps suggest how they might improve other areas, though this by no means suggests I don’t make the same mistakes myself – again and again.
I actually get more from well-considered negative reviews of my work (and I’ve had enough) than glowing ones that lack specifics. However, if the review I write is less than three stars I’ll email it to the author to see if they want me to post it. If they don’t, I won’t. They can use it for their edification or send it to their trash file unread.
I hope to make some surprising discoveries and maybe offer some assistance along the way.
PS Anyway, I went ahead and reviewed Michael Ondaatje's, The Cat's Table. Gave it two stars on Amazon and one star here - just so you know what you're in for.