I am a super, super sensitive person. I know, right? I chose the wrong occupation for such a “deficiency,” though who really chooses to be a writer? I certainly did not. I read a blog post just the other day that advised anyone who wanted to become a writer to get out while they still can, and I stand by that…in a way. I don’t write out of chosen desire; I write out of compulsion, because I can do ought else. Because if I don’t my characters do nothing but chatter in my head, my settings emerge in panoramic display, and I lose what tenuous grasp I barely have on a reality I generally want no part of. So I write because I feel that there’s something in me, something I have to impart, though half the time I feel far less important and wonder why I’m such a undeserving elitist.
I became lost in the preamble. This is as “free” of a blogging session as I’ve ever undertake. I have no notes; I have no plans; I’m just writing it because it’s needling at the back of my mind. I’m also currently experiencing the worst toothache of my life and I have a prescription for Tylenol with codeine. I have never had a cavity, but last dentist checkup, they discovered eight at least one of which requires a root canal, ugh. They did a temporary filling on that particular tooth, but part of it came out when I was flossing that night. Oh, a word to the wise if you don’t, FLOSS. The majority of my cavities were between teeth, and the veneer of my smile looks (near) perfect (I personally think my teeth are too yellow, but that’s just my American vanity speaking), but as I said in my blurb for Northern Lights:
“The kingdom lies beneath the foundation,
And the foundation is rotting above…”
My teeth aren’t quite rotting, but you understand what I mean by the veneer (no tooth pun intended). Now speaking of Northern Lights and going back to my sensitivity (sensitoothity? Anyone? Anyone?), I generally have a very detrimental reaction to bad or god forbid mean reviews. I can take critiques, but I prefer to receive them in a certain way. Any of my friends whom I trust to beta read know how to impart such criticisms, but it’s foolish to expect everyone or honestly anyone on the internet or any person who’s reading/reviewing your work for consideration to do the same. I know this intrinsically, so I’m always bracing myself whenever I see a review has been posted for my fanfiction. This week I received two. One, which was very magnanimous and praising that made this Narcissist blush, but then there was the other…
It actually wasn’t an altogether bad review, and the comment did say that the writing was beautiful, but they had some less than stellar thoughts about my dialogue. I deleted the review from my email so I don’t have it verbatim; however, if you wish to take a look you can find all Fanfiction.net reviews for Northern Lights here. It was posted on October 12 by a user named Luna. I read it a few times, then deleted it because as I said I’m super sensitive and I also have a great need for validation. Basically, there are times where I think my writing is absolute shit and I wonder why I’m bothering, and that kind of mindset can easily throw me into a hollow depression where I can’t write, but I can’t stop thinking about my characters or writing and it’s just no good (the prior sentence was…pretty much my life for over a year. It wasn’t a bad review but rejection after rejection of my original novel. It’s why I’ve given up original writing for the time being, but…this is not the time or place to talk about that. Moving on…). When I get a critique like that I read it, remember it (I can’t forget it if I tried), but then remove it from any direct source, because even though it didn’t trigger the all encompassing despair, dwelling on even the slightest criticism for too long can set off a chain reaction.
Now, obviously as a writer I need to take critiques into account; however while I should consider them, I don’t believe I should let each and every one dictate how I do what I do. The reviewer thought that my dialogue seemed too “rehearsed,” which I find interesting because I recently read a post on author Anthony Vicino’s blog by guest blogger Alexis Ratcliff that talked about dialogue in terms of TV shows. It’s good to take a break from writing once in a while to enjoy a Netflix marathon because watching TV shows or really anything scripted will help you immensely with your own dialogue. The way TV and movies do conversations is they take the best of what we could possibly say and they use that. Dialogue in a story should be the same. You don’t throw in random mundane conversations unless those mundane conversations have some bearing on the plot (or you need a red herring), and the way I craft a story is I almost literally see a movie playing out in my head and I do often hear the characters speaking to each other. Usually very early in the morning right as I wake up or very late at night right before I fall asleep. I’ll hear the back and forth and I’ll try to capture it. This doesn’t mean the words won’t change. I liken it to me being an eavesdropper on a conversation and not quite hearing it right the first time.
I like my dialogue. I like writing it; I like reading it; I like reading it aloud. The dialogue of Northern Lights is one of the reasons I want to do an audio recording of it. If I had the wherewithal (read: courage) to ask the reviewer something, I’d ask them to be more specific and explain exactly why it felt rehearsed to them. I will admit that Sephiroth and Aeris do talk a bit fancier than I’ve seen them do in other fanfics, but not by that much. I also believe that the way I do dialogue is just my particular style, which I’m not going to change. I might tighten things up, but the way I write character conversations is just how I do it, so with that particular critique it may just be a stylistic issue. I’ve read authors whose dialogue style isn’t bad per se, but it doesn’t really do much for me (generally because I like fancier talk hehe).
But even though I’m talking a big game, there’s still that twinge of doubt in the back of my mind because I have to weigh every single critique, which is frustrating and makes me envious of writers who can just hear something they don’t agree with or think is true and just cast it to the wind. While I can toss this away intellectually and logically with what I said above, there’s still that sting of doubt causing a cognitive dissonance that will take time to get over. This is not remotely as bad as hearing, “Oh my god, your writing sucks,” which I believe isn’t true, but if it were said, it would ruin me for quite a while, and I’d have to read, reread, and reread again all of the good reviews I’d received while still doubting and wondering why all of those people can’t see how utterly terrible I am until as such time as I can forget the bad. Apparently, there is nothing that will ever change thing as many a best selling author experiences the same. Ironically (?), knowing that is quite uplifting.
How do you deal with critiques in general and ones you don’t agree with? I’m especially curious of the super sensitive people like me who take everything to heart.
Farewell for the nonce! I’ll be working on another Editing Blog post and I may be able to throw up my Halloween Rarity Unicorn costume and Sephiroth cosplay progress post. I want to utilize the videos I made of these, which is the factor that’s stalling such an update.
Until then, dear readers.