Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Writer's Wednesday - Coping with Critics

Hang on to your hats....Annie Burrows is here with a Writer's Wednesday post with an edge!


On Saturday, my Historical Undone ebook “Notorious Lord, Compromised Miss,” was chosen as the topic for discussion on a forum called “Dear Author”. The experience of being dissected on this forum is known, so I’ve since learned, as being “Jayne’d”. A friend emailed me, and warned me not to look at the transcript. “It’s a bloodbath,” she said. And then “Worse still, it’s funny. Would you hate me if I said I laughed?”

No, I couldn’t blame her for laughing at the witty way those ladies ripped my story to shreds. They are clearly very talented at doing this sort of thing.

And, I have to confess, I can kind of see where they are coming from.

Because one of my favourite tv shows, which we have here in the UK, is called “I’m a Celebrity, Get me Out of Here!” About a dozen minor celebs get sent to a jungle in Australia, and undergo a series of humiliating and gross challenges, in order to win firstly, food for the day, and secondly, the right to stay in the game. If they really can’t take any more, they can cry “I’m a Celebrity, Get me Out of Here!” and the trial is stopped.

I look forward to it with great glee. From the superiority of my comfy arm chair, I laugh at them being thrown out of helicopters on the end of a bungy rope, eating witchety grubs, or diving into vats of crocodile infested water to earn their rewards.

The presenters are what make the show so entertaining, though. Ant and Dec present the show from a platform high above the jungle where the celebrities are undergoing their trials. They are quite merciless in their mockery, and leave the audience with no sympathy for the competitors whatsoever.

They did away with any pity I might have felt for the vegetarian asked to drink a p*nis colada. Yes – a cocktail (!) made from blending the genitalia of various Australian animals until liquefied.
(Editor note: EWWWWWW!)

Nor did I soften towards the glamour model, who whined, “I don’t like the dark, I don’t like heights, I don’t like enclosed spaces, I don’t like creepy crawlies…” I could sense people all over Britain reaching for their phones, to ensure she took part in the next trial, which involved locking one of the celebs into a small, dark space, whilst various creepy crawlies were tipped onto them.

Because, if she didn’t like all those things, then WHAT WAS SHE DOING ON THE SHOW?

I was particularly looking forward to watching one guy, Robert Kilroy-Silk, (a politician whose views I find repellent) getting slimed. I sat there, clutching my mug of hot chocolate, as he underwent a whole series of ghastly tasks in rapid succession so that his team mates could get a meal that day. But slowly, my attitude towards him underwent a radical change. I began to admire his fortitude. The way he just put his head into that box full of rats, and extracted the plastic star with his teeth…wow! What a man!

He was still the first one voted out of the show. That guy is never going to win any popularity contests. But there was no fun in trying to humiliate him. He just came out of every single trial with so much dignity!

And so, back to my experience of being “Jayne’d”.
My first reaction, like that of the glamour model, was to whinge that it wasn’t fair. I hadn’t signed up for this kind of humiliation.


Or had I?


My book is out there in the public domain. Those ladies had bought the book, and had every right to say whatever they liked about it.


After reading what they had said, I might have felt as though I’d been smeared in molasses, rolled in bird seed, and then thrown into a pen full of hungry emus. At the end of the transcript, one of the contributors even made a comment to the effect that they might have ruined some poor author’s confidence, and that I might never put pen to paper again.

They clearly want me to shout “Get me out of here!”


I’m sorry, but the only thing that will get me out of this jungle, is the public vote. So long as people buy my work, and enjoy it, I’m going to have to put up with a certain amount of flak from others, who just don’t get me.

So I’m just going to lift my chin, plant my fists firmly on my hips, and cry, “Bring on the next bowl of cockroaches!”


You go girl! And for those of you interested in seeing what all the hubbub is about - here's a peek of Annie's UNDONE cover! You can get it from e-harlequin right here!

22 comments:

  1. OMG...you're hilarious!

    I've often wondered why people volunteer for those shows! They know they'll have to eat bugs (and worse).

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  2. I'm with Lynne. Bravo.

    Authors have to develop a thick skin. And chocolate really helps.

    (But that liquidised cocktail - literally *g* - urrrrrh. No.)

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  3. What a wonderful attitude, Annie!!

    Hooray for you!!!!

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  4. thanks Jenna, Lynne, Kate and Michelle - yes, when you've had to metaphorically eat a plate full of bugs, chocolate (real chocolate)definitely helps to take the aftertaste away!

    And thanks, editors of this site, for putting up a link to buy the book - would you believe it totally slipped my mind?

    Annie

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  5. Annie - I thought your post very potent. It reminded me of before I sold and saying, don't get even, get published. Your "They clearly want me to shout...." just hit me right in the fighting spirit.

    Bring on the next bowl of cockroaches!

    D

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  6. thanks Carol and Donna, for your good wishes.
    And I don't think any of us would make it as writers if we didn't have some fighting spirit. we would have given up after the first rejection (or the 2nd, or 3rd, or...)

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  7. Good for you, Annie.

    I can't even watch "Celebrity". EEEWWW indeed, ed.

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  8. Annie, I think there's a huge difference between signing up for torture and being thrown into and oubliette by a bunch of fame-starved, vaguely-smart, jealous, self-proclaimed bitches.

    Yes as an author you put yourself out there, and a review is a fact of life, but don't they have a shred of human decency? Apparently not. I feel sorry for them. For you, I feel only admiration.

    Good luck with the novella. And excuse me for posting anon, but these ladies are truly vicious.

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  9. Annie, good for you in responding to the Dear Author hachet job in such an intelligent and insightful and non-defensive way. Luckily, the format of discussion was so cumbersome that I gave up even before the discussion began.

    I understand that not everyone will like what I write and I pride myself on having a thick skin, but a scathingly negative review still hurts, so hugs to you. And keep writing!!!!!

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  11. I got a bit heated there but still, Annie, you're great and don't let them stop you writing. :)

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  12. thanks Liz, Diane, Anon (you have written a lot of works!)and Phillipa,
    I AM getting on with my w.i.p. in between popping in here to answer comments!

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  13. Absolutely brilliant response, Annie. You go, girl!

    Tho you didn't sign on to eat slime. You signed on to try to entertain, amuse, enlighten and bring joy to the day of readers. Not all of them will connect to what you write. But you are always trying to reach them, every one. No writer ever sets out to pen something a reader or reviewer will gleefully shred.

    From Julia, who has munched her share of cockroaches.

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  14. Annie

    Great attitude! We can't please everyone with evey book although we truly give it our best shot each time.

    Marin Thomas
    Harlequin American Romance
    The Cowboy and the Angel (Nov 08)
    www.marinthomas.com

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  15. Annie

    Great attitude! We can't please everyone with evey book although we truly give it our best shot each time.

    Marin Thomas
    Harlequin American Romance
    The Cowboy and the Angel (Nov 08)
    www.marinthomas.com

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  16. Thanks JJ, Marin (2 for the price of one!) and Michelle W.
    Yes, I do want my books to entertain and amuse readers.
    Though obviously I would rather they laughed with me, than at me,
    Annie B

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  17. Hi Annie

    All I can say is:
    1. It is very, very easy to slate a book, and it is very, very difficult to write one.
    2. It IS personally horrible, but I do believe the saying that all publicity, so they are likely to have just sold you more books - giving you the last laugh.
    and 3. I really, really admire your attitude, especially for posting about it, you go girl!

    Sabrina xx

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  18. Hi Sabrina,
    Yup - this is a lot more publicity than I was expecting to get for Notorious Lord!
    Annie

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  19. Annie- we're just really glad you could be with us today. As Michelle said to me earlier - "Bring on the next bowl of Cockroaches" should be the new battle cry!

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