Negative reviews? Please.

You know who can rip my stuff to shreds and inflict more psychological stress/pain on me than I’m already experiencing?

Me.

You think that review of Going To Pieces was bad? He didn’t even bother to knock the TITLE. What kind of wuss misses an easy dig like that? Pfft. And let’s not even get started about how he stayed away from critiquing the sex, the position(s), the BDSM, the colors of the decor, OR the vocabulary. “repast”? Really? Who uses “repast” in everyday conversation?

Every time I send a story off, I’ve got a serious case of cognitive dissonance going on: “They’re going to LOVE IT!” is followed immediately by “No, no, they will HATE IT. LOATHE IT.” Which is then drowned by “They’re going to ADORE IT!” and so on, until I decide to reread my submission.

The last story I submitted? Has at least one glaring typo. I’m amazed I managed to keep it under the word count–so I’m proud of myself for that–but I’m also half-convinced that in so doing I’ve wrung all the sensuality and hotness and immediacy out of it. I look at it and think “If I just had another 1,000 words! I could make Jackie’s whole look less gimmicky-sounding. Or I could do more with the plant. Or…”

I have yet to see a review of my story in Model Men, which is a Benny and Phil story. Phil’s the POV character… The first-person POV character. There are people out there who are going to declare that I am an absolute wash as a writer, simply because they hate Phil’s voice. There are other people out there who will rightly point out that there’s a minor omission toward the beginning of the story that ideally shooooould have been filled in, now that I think about it. (It doesn’t detract or otherwise substantially change the story itself, though, so I don’t think it really matters all that much.)

People have pointed out the problems with First Flight and Tobias’s Own, though for the latter most people were polite enough to not mention the fact that I smooshed six months of being attracted to one another into a couple of “telling” sentences. There’s more than that, of course, since they’re novellas, but seriously.

And not every negative review I’ve gotten has been bad — one of my favorites was for Gone To Pieces, where the reviewer said she was pretty sure Brice was pudgy, balding, and friendless. The story still wasn’t her cuppa, but we both agreed that Brice was a jerk and a half. I don’t care about that — tell me the story’s not your thing, even tell me why, that’s great. Make me laugh at the same time? That’s even better!

Write a lengthy critique that focuses on things I didn’t do or didn’t do the way you were expecting/wanted me to? Especially when it was a request story and you weren’t the one who requested it? I’ll fume about it, then write something relatively neutral in response.

Tell me I suck and I’ll get annoyed; tell me to quit writing and I’ll dig my heels in and keep on. Claim that anyone who has given my stuff bad reviews is a bully and I’ll be really confused. As I said at the beginning, dude. You want someone to point out every last wonky beam and misplaced modifier, I am at your service. I wrote it, I better know damn well just where it sucks and how.

So, y’know. I’m not saying I want negative reviews, or that I embrace them all with a smile on my face–because in all honesty, I’d rather have people love my stuff, warts and all. It’s just that for the most part, people who’re going to give First Flight one star because they had a traumatic run-in with their great-aunt’s hyacinth macaw when they were 12 and now they hate all birds (or whatever) aren’t going to bother to pull it apart the way I can.