February 24th, 2013


Truly, I do not understand review wank

I get that people want reviews. I want reviews. I include a polite request that people leave reviews for my stories because yes, I like to know people read it and enjoyed it. But I also realized long ago that only a small percentage of your readers will comment on it at all. There are people who will faithfully follow your stories for years, and never leave a single review or comment.

And that's okay! Maybe it's because they're shy. Maybe because they always read on a phone that's inconvenient for posting. Maybe they just don't like leaving comments. I know there are people who read this LJ regularly who have never commented (waves), and of course there are people who "follow" or "favorite" you on ff.net without ever leaving a review. That's okay too.

I can understand an author who really needs a bit of ego-boosting being sad that people follow their story but never comment. But I do not understand the rage some authors display at not getting reviews, not getting enough reviews, getting reviews that don't meet their standards (too short/too vague/too critical/mentioned a ship the author doesn't like/etc.), or (I am not kidding) getting angry that someone "followed" a completed story. I mean, yeah, it's pointless to sign up for updates for a story that is finished, but probably the person didn't notice, or they just automatically "follow" all stories they like just in case the author does post another chapter. It's not like it has any negative impact on the author.

So anyway, the latest fandom_wank entry is yet another fanfic author having a meltdown because people aren't reviewing the way she wants. But the real gem is one of the linked comment threads, in which a former fanfic author and now supposedly a best-selling pro author goes off on how fanfic writing is a "mug's game" because readers are so entitled, they want free stuff, don't they know you are a human being, and maybe writing is how you support yourself? (Uh, then you need to not be writing fan fiction...)

Evidently, because I am not particularly bothered by people who read my stories without commenting, I am just like someone in an abusive relationship who doesn't have enough self esteem to leave.

Wow. How about writing because you fucking enjoy writing? I mean, I might whine and moan about wanting to be published, but ultimately, this is something I do for fun. If you really want to make a living as a writer, you need to go about it seriously and professionally. Otherwise, you need to get over your special snowflake self and make peace with the fact that fandom is what it is, and if you are posting free fiction, you should be content with only a few of your readers leaving reviews, and if you get a small core of regular fans (I love you guys!), that's gonna have to do you as far as ego-stroking goes.

I am more and more convinced that the growing incidence of professional authors having meltdowns over bad reviews is because we're seeing more writers coming out of fandom and going pro... without also making the transition from emotional adolescence to adulthood.

Book Review: Small Remedies, by Shashi Deshpande

An intergenerational soap opera on the surface, it's really about the stages of grief, memory as an unreliable narrator, and coping.

Small Remedies

Penguin Books, 2000, 324 pages

Shashi Deshpande's latest novel explores the lives of two women, one obsessed with music and the other a passionate believer in Communism, who break away from their families to seek fulfilment in public life. Savitribai Indorekar, born into an orthodox Hindu family, elopes with her Muslim lover and accompanist, Ghulaam Saab, to pursue a career in music. Gentle, strong-willed Leela, on the other hand, gives her life to the Party, and to working with the factory workers of Bombay.

Fifty years after these events have been set in motion, Madhu, Leela's niece, travels to Bhavanipur, Savitribai's home in her last years, to write a biography of Bai. Caught in her own despair over the loss of her only son, Aditya, Madhu tries to make sense of the lives of Bai and those around her, and in doing so, seeks to find a way out of her own grief.

Cross-posted to 1001books.

Collapse )

Verdict: I haven't read much Indian fiction, but I enjoyed the language and execution of Small Remedies with a writer's appreciation for craft, even though the story itself isn't something that would normally interest me much. Almost a perfect book in terms of accomplishing what the author intended, I would say it deserves a place on the list of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die at least as much as many of the more famous entries do.

My complete list of book reviews.