First was the paid-for critique. ‘Brace yourself’, the reviewer said when she sent it back. I practically needed counselling after that one. Then I started to send Can’t Live Without to agents. While the first agent liked it a lot, many others didn’t love it at all, and the rejection letters piled up. Next I began to post chapters here – and you have been wonderful readers, with constructive and supportive comments, for which I am eternally grateful. Thank goodness for you lot…
Because then there is You Write On. While initially supportive of this peer-review site, I am starting to lose the faith a little. My latest review was so cutting it had me gasping for breath. Most reviewers stick to the ‘criticism sandwich’ – positive comment/what didn’t work in their opinion/another positive comment for support of a fellow author. This latest reviewer – who admitted in his first sentence that Chick Lit was something he had no understanding or even tolerance of – appeared to take great delight in ripping my sample chapters to shreds.
The thing with YWO is, you can’t respond. Although many of my reviews have been positive, some have been so erroneous it makes your teeth itch. One reader based her entire review on what she hoped wouldn’t happen in the book – what, I ask you, was the point of that? She got herself all worked up about a book I hadn’t even written!
Mr Nasty-and-Pompous (who objected most strongly to my use of hyphenated-compound-words, which is why I’m using lots of them here) was particularly scathing. But why? Most of his criticisms were down to personal taste or style, not hard-and-fast writing rules. He’s not my target audience, and he knows it, so what was the point in being so horrid? To try and appear clever? To prop up his own fragile ego? Thankfully, I’ll never know.
Which brings me on to the thickness of my skin. Yes, thicker than an elephant’s hide these days. A year ago, a review like this would have hurt me; I would have secretly wondered if I should even carry on writing at all. Today – I laughed. I thought: What a pompous, stupid tw**. I guess I’m learning how to balance the scales of criticism after all.
So watch out, Mr Nasty. Your own writing will be coming up for me to review on YWO very soon. Let’s see how thick your skin is, shall we?