To Readers: I’m going to say a little something this morning and you can take it wherever you’d like. I always say “reviews are gold.” They are! When you choose your star rating and post those words on Amazon, the world sees them. They believe them as though you (the reviewer) are the be all, end all of this certain book, film, or product. Not true, but this is how the human brain works. Well, most of them. The dumb ones.
Anyway, as writers, we respect your honesty and thrive off of it! It is one of the most major forms of praise (or criticism) we receive. It encourages us to continue what we do or fix what we’re doing wrong. I love them. Love them. If you read something of mine, please review it HONESTLY. Don’t sugar coat anything. If you loved it, I want to know how much you loved it. If you hated it, feel free to tell me how much you hated it! Most times, I laugh at that shit and laughter is the best medicine of all! Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way…
The reviewer has great power. With great power comes great responsibility. I am speaking for all writers right now when I say DO NOT USE THIS POWER FOR PERSONAL ATTACKS! Just because you read our words does not mean that you know us personally. You have no idea what we’re going through in our personal lives or what we’ve experienced. You’re seeing our art, not our lives.
A few weeks ago, a certain someone abused their ‘power’ and took an opportunity to claim I was an abusive racist. They read the actions of a character I’d written in a work of fiction who IS racist, abusive toward women and children, and cruel to animals, and pushed her observations onto me personally. Then, this person posted it in a review and led other people to believe this was truth! Honestly, you have no business reading fiction if you can’t separate it from the truth. This is how mass shooters and serial killers are created! Do you honestly believe Stephen King hangs out in the sewers dressed as a clown and kills children? In real life?
Just because I possess the ability to write a character so vile doesn’t mean it reflects my inner thoughts. It just means I’m goddamn good at what I do! Now, for the real consequences of such actions…
Even though I’ve been writing professionally for thirteen years, this review/personal attack threw me into a deep depression for three weeks. I felt like ass. I questioned my own personal beliefs and self worth every minute of every day in those three weeks. I was unable to be productive or affectionate toward those closest to me. I basically shut myself off and endured a dark battle inside my own mind. Yes, I ask you to review my works often, but I’ve never asked anyone to review me as a person.
As a reader, you’re allowed to read my books but NO ONE has the ability to read ME. Racist? My family is mixed! Abusive toward women and children? I have five children (three of them are daughters), four grandchildren, and I love my wife deeply! I’m also an Army veteran, ex law enforcement, and take medication daily for anxiety. This is stuff we don’t put in our author bio so you have to take it upon yourself to not be an asshole. I’m finally coming out of it but the last three weeks of my life were pure hell! Why? Because someone abused their power and crossed a line.
Now, I’m not sure if this person is a fellow writer or just someone who likes to criticize someone personally for things they are unable to do. A literary version of penis envy. Either way, words are painful, even to a wordsmith. The lesson?
Review the art, not the artist. Our job is to make you feel something and, obviously, you, the reviewer, did. No writer ever promised that feeling would always be a good one and, if you go into every book expecting that ‘good’ feeling, you’re doomed to be disappointed time and time again.
I guess what I’m saying is, we, as artists, allow you, the readers, to dip your toes into our soul from time to time. Please have the decency to wash your fucking foot before entering. Also, buy a copy of my newest work of FICTION Starving Zoe! Thank you.