Everyone’s a Critic

Recently on Facebook I stated my opinion of a famous writer’s most recent novels (a big thumb’s down from me, after years of respect for his oeuvre). Several other members of the group followed up on my comment, agreeing with me. Last night I woke with an overwhelming need…went to the computer, found my post on Facebook, and deleted it. Went right back to sleep…no twinge of conscience about having started a discussion and ducking out. This morning as I worked on my latest post here (Making Myself Up), I kept remembering my need to delete the Facebook comment…why?

The Internet has spawned a horde of critics. There are whole sites devoted to nothing other than opinions: books (novels especially), poetry, art, anything creative–as well as appliances, rugs, furniture, hardware, software–you name it, there’s a site that will criticize it. Many of those sites track the numbers, giving a choice of, say, five stars for the best and one or no stars for the worst, then an “average” that can make or break whatever is being criticized.

I’ve tried not to follow the critiques of my novel on numerous sites: goodreads.com, amazon.com, shelfari.com, etc., and discussions on several groups on eons.com, bookbrowse.com, and various such groups. But I do it…I go in and look at the numbers, then at individual comments. And I sweat blood over the negative criticisms.

This is not a plea for kind reviews, rather a statement about those who are–say–fans of the mystery genre, or of romance, or science fiction…they are highly qualified to post reviews in their genre. But what about a fan of literary fiction criticizing mystery or romance or SF because–in that reviewer’s opinion–the work isn’t literary enough?

I’m just saying: if you’re a fan of illustrated short stories, don’t review my novel. I’ll return the favor.

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