Monday, February 22, 2010

One-Star Reviews for John Scalzi

John Scalzi is one of my favorite authors, I think he does great work as an author and as a blogger. He has a new post up on Whatever about One-Star Reviews. The basic idea is that he's found reviews of books on that give a book the lowest possible rating and a detailed description of why such a rating is deserved. John posts such reviews of two books currently nominated for awards, and then says this:
I think it’s useful for all us writers to remember no one work pleases everyone, and you can’t make anyone like it if they don’t, and you can’t keep them from telling other people what they think of it, even if they hate it… and that’s fine. Learn to deal with it. Otherwise it doesn’t matter how much success or praise or satisfaction you earn through your writing, you’ll still obsess over those one-star reviews and it will eat away at your joy. That’s no way to live.
I have a strong perfectionist streak, and this is important advice for people like me. If you want to do good work, you need to work very hard. You need to avoid being overwhelmed by extreme amounts of praise or criticism, because both are distractions from what you're really trying to accomplish. Most of all, you should probably remember that in some ways criticism is partially praise - something about your work has drawn people in enough to give it a chance. Even though some people might not end up liking your work, work that everyone likes is bland, banal and boring.