I hate you! Wait, why are you getting so upset?
I lost some of my precious writing hours today because I got pulled in by a thread on reddit about when to tell writers you don’t like their work. My first thought was “never,” but then I realized I have taken the odd positive thing out a negative comment. So I wrote the following in response:
I’ll acknowledge that I’ve taken readers’ criticism to heart and changed things about my writing because of it. But so much depends on the nature of that criticism. There’s a huge difference between “This book had a magic sword and magic swords are stupid. ONE STAR!” and “I didn’t really understand how that rib from the dead god became a magic sword, so I had trouble believing any of the scenes with that sword.” The first comment just kind of ruins my day. The second makes me pause and think about what I wrote. (“Ah damn it, I forgot to write the scene with the dragon blacksmith! Better get that in the sequel.”)
Receiving a message like the creator of HE did would be nothing but hurtful. I mean, that’s the direction Watson wants to be taking with his comic. I wouldn’t respond like he did — I’d probably reply with a “sorry to hear that but thanks for writing” or ignore it if I were having a really bad day — but there’s no way that doesn’t hurt. It makes your day when someone tells you they like your work. But it can also wreck your day when someone goes out of their way to tell you they don’t like what you do.
I really appreciate social media for the way it connects me with readers. Those connections really make a difference to me, and they keep me writing some days when I’m down on myself. But it’s a double-edged sword, etc. A writer I know recently had someone tweet a negative review of his book to him several times in a week — “Hey, just in case you didn’t see this yesterday…” Nothing good comes out of that.
If I find something I love, I let the creator know. If I don’t love it, I spend my time finding something else to love.
There’s a lot more I could say on the subject, but I’ll have to leave it at that for the moment. I’ve got a book to finish!