(From my guest, Ryan King, author of the post-apocalyptic epic Glimmer of Hope and 22 nonfiction military history works. Ryan releases short stories every month. Catch his latest Mask of Mitwaba here.)
I love writing, I really do. It is an amazing feeling to create something from the images and ideas in your head that other people can experience. Now that I’m writing, I can’t really imagine doing much else with the rest of my life…that is when I’m not at my day job.
Part of being a writer, or any artist for that matter, is enduring the opinion of others. You toil and agonize to give birth to something that you can’t help but love no matter how ugly it may be. It really is like having a child in some ways. You love them and recognize their flaws, but want others to only notice the good side, not the fact that they fart in public or say “that lady sure is fat!” very loudly in line at the grocery store.
Yes, I’m talking about reviews. Those reader opinions that can send your heart leaping for joy or put you in a funk for days. I’ve really tried to adopt the philosophy of Dennis Kucinich who said “What other people think of me is none of my business”, but like a child this is harder to do with your creative works. I would much rather someone insult me personally than a work I have created. Often these reviews are unfair and even cruel. Heck, Robert Jordan reportedly got nearly two hundred one star reviews for his latest Wheel of Time book from fans upset the book wasn’t out in electronic format sooner.
This got me thinking about what other “review” processes in our lives are unfair and sometimes cruel. These three came to mind.
1. High School Dating: Teenagers can be the cruelest and most insecure humans on the planet and their thirst for retribution sometimes inspires this to dizzying heights of creative revenge. One of the old-time faithful methods of a girlfriend is to whisper among her friends about her former boyfriend. Pretty soon, girls in the halls are smiling knowingly and giggling in his sight and it becomes much harder to get a date for the prom. Whether it is the truth or not, every guy just knows the discussion is about the unimpressive size of his…uh…member. Size doesn’t matter right?
2. Dinner for Kids: My four boys are literally fearless. They think nothing about leaping from incredible heights or riding anything with wheels down steep hills lined with broken glass and rusty nails. But when it comes to trying some new food you have prepared, they are suddenly timid and uncertain. Worse they will brand the delicious food as “icky” without even touching it, much less tasting it. I can see it coming a mile away, their noses curl up like they’re smelling old milk and their chins drop to their chests. The wonderful meal that you prepared that will broaden their dietary horizons doesn’t stand a chance. So unfair.
3. The Opinion of Cats: I’m a dog person, always have been. Dogs accept and appreciate you just the way you are. Cats judge and disdain you much of the time. Even when they tolerate you, it is for a purpose, i.e. food, milk, warmth, play thing, but if you disappeared off the planet tomorrow one has to wonder if the cat would notice or care. I believe if cats could talk, they would likely be extinct by now, because you can just sense the disapproval they would voice. Cruel cruel kitties. Except kittens of course, they’re totally cute.
Anyone think of any other unfair and/or cruel review examples?