Today I received a fabulous new review for Foley Russel and That Poor Girl, and naturally I cried while trying to read it out aloud to my hubby. That’s right, didn’t cry while reading on my own, I had to cry in front of others. Anyway, it got me to thinking about the relationship between writers and reviewers.
It’s a tenuous relationship. Less obvious than that between writers and editors or writers and publishers, but a relationship nonetheless. Still, I’m yet to figure out exactly how it all works. After all, I’ve read a lot of books that got great reviews and even won awards, but which I thought were nigh on unreadable. Too wordy, pretentious or abstract for me to actually care about either the story or its characters. By the same token, I’ve read books which were absolutely bagged by the reviewers but that I truly loved.
I think these discrepancies are proof positive that assessment of writing, like assessment of most art, is almost entirely subjective. Different people like different things. Some people adore Picasso’s ‘Blue period’ for example, me…not so much. It doesn’t mean the art is no good, it just means it’s not for me. Obviously, the more people who love something, the more likely it is that you will too, the creation has something about it that is generally appealing.
General appeal, or universal popularity, requires a large number of people to actually participate in assessing the work. That makes reviewers like treasure hunters. They find things that are as yet undiscovered, and start appraising it, which is a tricky job if you think about it; and I’m well aware that a reviewer’s opinion is not always right.
All that said, reviewers are readers and that’s why their opinion affects me. I want my readers to love my stories. I want to feel like I’ve created a little something special for them…and it thrills me when they say I’ve succeeded.