April 10, 2018

To Review or not to Review

By Susan Reichert, Editor-in-Chief for Southern Writers Magazine 

Authors want reviews of their books. Publishers want reviews of their author’s books.

Therefore, it got me to thinking about these reviews that are wanted. I think you will see some interesting facts about the meanings of reviews. Stay with me, don’t give up, and see where I am going with this.

I looked up the definition of review. The answer is “A critical appraisal of a book, play, movie, exhibition, etc., published in a newspaper or magazine.” (This is just one of many answers listed on the internet as well as Webster’s Dictionary.)

Most of us do not like people being critical of anything connected with us. Therefore, I dug further.

 Now this leads us to the definition of critical, which is “inclined to criticize severely and unfavorably”. Wow. Well it is for sure we, as humans don’t like that.

Nevertheless, I continued to follow that thread to criticize, which means, “to consider the merits and demerits of and judge accordingly”. Now that definition I can live with. That is fair.

We would all love to hear accolades concerning our writings and we should but we also have to realize there will be some “demerits” of our writings. How else will we learn to grow and write better?

The things we create are personal to us. They represent our abilities and skills and we want people to think our work is good, in fact, above average. Therefore, when someone is critical of our writing, drawing, any talent we have we may take it personal; it may sound to us as if they are saying our abilities and skills aren’t good enough.  This sometimes could translate to “you’re not good enough.” It is hard to distance ourselves and keep separate ‘we the person’ and ‘we the author or artist’.

Thinking back to when we were in the first grade the teacher would write a word on the board and wanted us to write the same word on those pages with wide blue lines. Then she would go around and look at each person’s words they had written and say, “Oh, that is very good Johnny.” But, she would say to a lot of the class “Write on the line, don’t go below the line.” Sometimes we would hear “No, Suzie, it doesn’t have a curl on the top.”

I don’t ever remember feeling the teacher was being critical of me. I felt she was helping me; teaching me to write my words, that she had my best interest at heart.

I think, when we receive a review, it would help us if we could get back in the head of that first grader.  See the review for what it is, someone’s opinion––telling us what our work needs. They are trying to help us. Good, bad or indifferent it is their opinion.

If we can do that, we may find a few nuggets of gold in their words that may help us make our writing better.

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