Last week I uploaded my story “Girlish” to Fictionmania ( fictionmania.tv or my story list at http://fictionmania.tv/searchdisplay/authordisplay.html?word=4594 ), and as I always do, I’ve been watching the reviews coming in. Some of the reviews are very good… and some of them are very bad. As I expected, “Girlish” is just as controversial a story now as it was when I posted it at storysite.org a long time ago. And as usual, reading some of the comments makes me feel like it’s time to quit writing – permanently. Fortunately, I’ve been through this before and I always get over it after a few weeks and the desire to write returns. Currently though, writing is not something I want to do – not story writing anyway. Don’t worry, it will come back to me… eventually.
Please don’t get me wrong! I appreciate each and every comment that anyone bothers to write, and many of the comments are extremely positive! Those nice ones are always just like a nice warm hug. It’s just a few of the other ones that get me feeling down and depressed and confused.
As I’ve said, I’m actually very grateful to all the people who bother to leave a review of my work. These are the people who were interested enough to bother reading it in the first place. These are the people who felt strongly enough about my story that they took the time to pass on their opinions about it. I don’t want them to stop writing their reviews or even sugar-coat them. I’m grateful for their honest opinions… good or bad! It’s nice to know what people think! Sometimes.
The ones who say they were up too long at night because they couldn’t put the story down are my heroes! The other’s that leave a negative response all leave me feeling sad – I can’t help it… it’s human nature. And I mostly understand the reasons for what they say, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get disappointed. As I said, it’s human nature. But don’t get me wrong… I DON’T EXPECT EVERYONE TO LIKE MY WORK! That’s not my point here. But I’ll get to that point in a minute.
In trying to understand the overall gist of the negative comments, to me, they all seem to boil down to a few of the same things.
For one, I guess my mind doesn’t always write stories that fit into the “total reality box.” That’s the little box that holds only stories where everything can only be completely as it would be in real life. In fact, I don’t think any of my stories actually belong there. All my works are fantasy – not reality. I guess it’s difficult for me to understand that so many others who read the stories from that site don’t think that way. Not only do I not claim that any of my stories are true stories, I state in the beginning that they’re all just a work of fiction and ask them to please take it that way. I guess I need a better way to get that across.
Another little thing I’ve pieced together, is that what many of my readers are constantly looking for, is justice. Swift and immediate. Sooner rather than later. I totally get that! I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve read where all I can think about is why the main character doesn’t ignore all the consequences and do something to fight back… or at least go on some maniacal rampage. Now that I look at it, “Girlish” falls pretty much into this category as well. But… if that bit of justice actually happens, or if it comes too soon, what would be left of the story? As much as I hate it, most of my stories don’t contain much in the way of the justice concept. But then, in real life, many situations don’t get proper justice either. That’s not an excuse, just an observation. I’m afraid that when I write, I never know if the concept of justice will happen in my stories or not. I don’t consciously think about it. I guess I just kind of go with the flow.
And yes, most of the situations I develop are cruel and sadistic. But then to me, a story has to have some kind of conflict or problem to revolve around, otherwise there isn’t much of a reason for the story to exist. And I guess there’s a chance that many of my situations are worse than what other writers devise. In fact, I don’t seem to write very many “nice” stories at all. Sorry. And if anyone believes that there aren’t any cruel people in the world, then those people don’t get out enough – nor do they probably check to see what’s in the news.
One other thing I’ve been accused of in the past is bad character development. I’m afraid I’m not good enough to be a judge of that one. But I try. I do think my work has as much if not more character development than some of the professional novels that I buy to read for fun. But that’s just my opinion. And I respect the fact that everybody is entitled to their own opinion.
I’m just trying to understand why there’s so much fuss over my simple stories!
I made the mistake this time of checking the reviews for another author who had gotten a good number of reviews in the first week of publication at Fictionmania (not as many as mine, but still much more than the usual one or two). The story I read was called “Potty Training Buddy” by Tammie2 – which seemed to hit on a lot of the things I like to read and fantasize about – and write about. Anyway, I was amazed that every last review for that story was very nice and complementary. I read that story with an eye toward trying to figure out what the difference is. Why is that story so much better than mine? And while I thoroughly enjoyed the story, in my opinion, every bad criticism that I got could more easily be applied to that story – yet I didn’t see one derogatory remark there at all. Please don’t go out now and do something stupid to another author who doesn’t deserve it!
So here it is…
What is it about my writing that evokes such volatile responses? At times, the reviewers almost seem to be arguing with each other! And I’m talking about all my stories now, not just “Girlish.” Check out the comments on “Baby Bobby” if you want to see another big debate ( http://fictionmania.tv/review/readreview.html?fbcntrl=21979 ). Do other authors get this kind of division over their stories? What is it about my works that inspire this kind of reaction – both good and bad. And as far as I can tell, the good and bad comments are so totally polar opposite that there is very little left in the middle.
I guess though that I’m asking the wrong question. The better question should be: Should I feel happy that my stories cause this kind of reaction? And overall, I think the answer should be “yes!” Like it or not, my work is provoking an emotional response – good or bad – in my readers. And it’s enough of a reaction that they not only take the time to read my work, but they go to the extra effort to write something about it – for good or bad. And I appreciate that – a lot! For good or bad.
But it still leaves me wondering if any other authors get that kind of reaction… or is it just me? I guess I need to check on that a bit more.
In April, I plan to start uploading to Fictionmania, the individual chapters of “The Bet.” This will be the version that I’m currently working on editing right now to fix little things like a million punctuation errors. I’m not rewriting the story! I’m only editing it! My plans are to once or twice a week, upload full chapters – not the chapter segments you are getting now. It should still take me most of the rest of the year to upload this little footnote of history to that site.
But now after uploading Girlish and seeing the responses, I’m left wondering a few things about “The Bet.”
I’m totally amazed at the number of people from all around the world who are following “The Bet” regularly. Currently, my 30 day total of hits is coming to just under 9,000 and my daily hits range between 250 per day to 400 per day. Can you guess which days get the most hits? Actually, back in October, before I went on vacation, I was getting over 11,000 hits in a 30 day period. I guess a lot of people gave up while I was away for a week. But I’m still totally amazed at how many people – from all over the world – are following loyally. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Anyway, after studying comments… and now editing “The Bet”… and knowing how many readers I’ve got… and the fact that we’re now well into the home stretch for “The Bet”, I’ve started wondering some things.
I know for a fact that all the people reading “The Bet” have to have different reactions and feelings about the characters. I wonder if any readers actually identify with Chad, or with Mel, or perhaps one of the other characters? Does anyone see themselves in any of the characters?
And how many of my readers just think that Mel is nothing but a cruel, heartless, sadistic bitch?
And how many readers wish they were in Chad’s shoes… or perhaps Mel’s?
And I guess the big question everyone is bound to have is… who’s going to win this thing? I’m sure there are more than a few who think Mel is going to win… just as there are also some who think Chad will win.
To be fair, I guess another question along that line would be to ask who you want to see win, not who you think will win? I wonder how many people don’t care?
It is my fondest hope that before I get to the very last posting of this story, most of you won’t be able to figure out who is going to win. I can’t tell you how difficult that is, but that’s what I’ve attempted to do. Well, I’ve tried anyway.
And finally, after all the soul searching I’ve done about my writing, I’m once again drawn back to one fact that has guided me for many, many years. I write for me! I don’t write for anyone else. I don’t write what others want me to write. I write what I want to write. I write what my mind wants to be in the story. If the story isn’t realistic – then so be it! If the story contains sadistic cruelty – then so be it! Believe it or not, more often than not, I’m not in charge of what gets written. The story is in charge. I just let my little fingers wander over the keyboard and I’m as surprised at what I type as you probably are when you read it. I rarely know in advance what’s going to come out. Fortunately, most of the time, I’m very pleased.
And in the end, after I create something, I do like to share it in any way that I can. Hence, this blog, as well as uploading them to a story site where they can be stumbled across and enjoyed for years to come by anyone who has the interest. I’ve spent many happy hours reading “free” material that was created by people who wanted to share. I guess I feel the same.
So that’s my little rant for today. Sorry for venting to you all. Don’t worry, I’ll get over it.