This ‘n’ that

Some observations made over the course of the week. Nothing profound–it’s all been said before. It’s just that it makes a greater impression when it happens to you.
A question occasionally asked in Amazon reviews is “I wonder what the writer was thinking/trying to do”? The reviewer then goes on to posit what they believe to have been the writer’s motivations. In the two instances where such questions were posed in reviews of my books, the answers the reviewers gave were so far off the mark, all I could do was sit there and wonder “WTF?” In one instance I recall where a friend’s work was reviewed, they were accused of trying to imitate a more popular writer whose work I know they disliked. Intensely.

I know three examples don’t necessarily prove anything, but one could still hazard the conclusion that trying to read a writer’s mind is a waste of time, and just irritates the writer. Not that it’ll stop reviewers from trying.

You never, ever know what buttons your work might push, how something you wrote might be interpreted, or misinterpreted. Again, all you can do is sit back and ponder how in hell anyone could have come up with whatever it is that they came up with. You know you intended X, and you have the research materials and notes to prove it. But a reader will turn X inside out, integrate it, differentiate it, divide it by the cosine of WHY? And then you’re left to wonder, should I have known that X might’ve been interpreted that way? Should I have been more sensitive? Did I hurt someone?

Then it hits you that if you keep thinking that way, you’ll never write anything ever again. Because you can’t always know. Some readers come equipped with psych hammers, and everything they read has nail potential. And then you’re the one accused of employing disturbing themes.

I appreciate it when co-workers show an interest, but if one more asks about the Jani books being made into a movie, I will hit something. It does no good to mention the long odds, or any other downside. From now on, I promise I’ll just smile, nod, and say nothing. Even when they ask “Hey, don’t you wish you’d written Harry Potter?”

Besides, the Jani books would work better as a miniseries, and they don’t make those much anymore.

None of my co-workers show up in the books. They really, really don’t.

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  1. 1. S.C. Butler

    I wish I’d written Harry Potter. Or at least collected some of the royalty checks.

  2. 2. Thomas

    I think reading popular reviews of books is like observing people look into these magical mirrors, you know? The kind that reflect back only what you bring to the table; which is to say that their reviews reflect more about the reviewer than the book they’re reviewing.

    They’d ask silly questions like, “Was writer traumatized when he was younger?” “Is this really a commentary on class warfare?” “Was the writer eating a lollypop and drinking Kool-Aid when he wrote this?”

    Good grief. Do you have hammer to go along with that stake?

  3. 3. Alma Alexander

    I don’t wish I’d written Harry Potter.

    I DO sometimes wish that I’d written a book that sells one tenth as well as Harry Potter.

    Sigh.

  4. 4. Kristine Smith

    I DO sometimes wish that I’d written a book that sells one tenth as well as Harry Potter.

    One percent of something Harry Potteresque and I would be rolling in puppies for the balance of my days.

    The kind that reflect back only what you bring to the table; which is to say that their reviews reflect more about the reviewer than the book they’re reviewing.

    I agree. Many times it says that they have the comprehension of a kumquat because often the facts they claim aren’t there are very much there. Waving a red flag and beating a big bass drum, while wearing pink tulle and dancing en pointe.

    But sometimes they spin things in ways incomprehensible, and there is nothing the writer can do.

Author Information

Kristine Smith

I'm a scientist by day, spec fic writer by nights and weekends. Author of the Jani Kilian SF series. Owned by two overgrown puppies. Visit site.

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