I find that as I get older I spend more time comparing the present to the past. The old “when I was a kid” syndrome. In which I drone on to my 15 year old about how things were when I was young. Before the advent of cell phones, Netflix and the internet. It’s probably something each one of us does as we ponder the ancient question “where things better in that era than they are now?”
I’d have to say it’s a 70/30 split (70% better back then). There has been a great deal of positive innovations (no Amazon Echo is not one of them). Most of them made in science and medicine. And yet we, as a nation, become increasingly isolated in our lifestyles, apathetic in our care of one another and corpulent in what we eat.
I still believe our ancestors had a more positive grasp on life. My opinion it boils down to entertainment. Or what is now called entertainment. Truly, it’s nothing more than watching random videos that people post for God knows what reason.
When I was a kid, we watched TV. Especially Saturday morning cartoons. But then we were outside and would stay outside until the street lights came on (that was the signal to go home for dinner). We rode bikes, we read books, and we played together. We got exercise and were social active all at the same time.
Now with the advent of new entertainment venues (read cell phone) kids have no need to move. They get their “play” from the phone. They socialize (I’m using that word loosely) on the phone. It’s a fact everything kids now have comes from the phone.
The younger generation(s) is becoming more and more dependent on technology and in turn more and more isolated. Cell phone technology has led us down a rabbit hole. And when that hole bottoms out it won’t be a pretty image. But hey, maybe someone will record it on video.
Of course, my first resolution is to not have any resolutions (again!) But clearly, that has never worked out. What I find interesting, and maybe this is only me (thought I doubt it) is that I rarely (read never) achieve my resolutions. Why? Is it because I have no willpower? Well yes, and no.
Dr. Phil (Yes, I love Dr. P) says that willpower is a myth and I am inclined to believe him. Of all the people I have known, I can think of only one person that has ever displayed a consistent and therefore winning game of willpower. It is my Uncle Roy. He was a smoker for decades, pretty much his entire adult life. Then one day he said, “I’m done” and never smoked again. No pills, no hypnosis, no patch. Just pure willpower. Impressive to say the least. What if we could all do that? With anything we wanted. The world would be a wonderful place.
Unfortunately, I think most of you are like me. Willpower lasts a solid five maybe ten minutes then it is out the window. Most of us need some type of outside influence. Need to stop wasting money on frivolous things? Lose your job. Need to lose weight? Have a heart attack. What is called negative motivation, not willpower is the moving force behind most changes.
Therefore, I decided the perfect New Year’s resolution would be not to do less of this or more of that. Instead I resolved to replace my bad habits (I will not list what they are because, well, damn, that’s personal) with positive habits.
Ok I’ll tell you one. I have always wanted to stop watching television. I hate that I watch it. It’s nothing but mind numbing garbage. And don’t get me started on the commercials. Televisions commercials make me want to stab myself or even better the morons who make the commercials. (Ahem, sorry. No, really tell us how you feel). So I have replaced all but the bare bones of TV watching with writing. I like writing better anyway and it won’t turn me into a moronic zombie. Yes, I will still watch most of the new Dr. Phil – the one with psycho teenagers at least. And I continue to watch Ink Master because some of them are such amazing artists. I didn’t watch a lot of TV in the first place but even if I wasted an hour a day on the idiot box that’s seven more hours of writing done a week. That’s a whole extra day’s work.
No bad, huh? So there you have it. I don’t resolve to change anything. I only resolve to REPLACE everything.
“Without a doubt that’s the ugliest baby I’ve ever seen.”
If you are a parent and have a small child or baby those words can have a devastating effect. Has anyone ever said that? In a world where people kill each other because they are the wrong race, or religion or nationality, then yes, I am sure someone has said that.
What does that have to do with writing fiction?
The other day I had a fan contact me saying how much he/she enjoyed my first book Darkwater. He/she said they gave it five stars on Amazon (and they did). He/she also wrote in the email how they were looking forward to reading book two of the series.
So I waited anxiously for their review of book two (first mistake). When I looked at the books reviews (second mistake) I saw the person gave it one star. Then I read the review (final mistake and nail in coffin). Aggh! The agony they gave my book one star. The nearly 80,000 words I poured blood sweat and tears into was ripped apart. Oh the humanity!
Fortunately, God saw that one coming (he sees it all coming) and that very night I got another wonderfully written email from a fan thanking me for writing the Xenkur series.
Still the review bothered me. If someone told you that your baby was ugly (see how I tied that in). You know it’s not true and yet that doesn’t prevent the comment from twisting a knife in your heart.
That’s what a novel is to the person who wrote it. It’s there baby. They have worked countless hours, days, years writing the novel. It is their love, their passion. No one would take the time to write a solid novel if there wasn’t a hunger to create.
When I first started getting reviews, I thought it would be helpful to read them. Possibly glean some information that would improve the book and my writing. So I read every review. But, quickly found out there isn’t really anything to help hone my craft in the reviews, (even the five star ones).
So what is a writer to do?
It’s simple: DONT look at your reviews and DONT read them.
It’s great to get reviews, especially positive ones, but I no longer believe it’s important to read them. In fact, I think it is harmful to your craft. If your reading reviews and they say, for example, “I didn’t like the Bob character, he was to wishy-washy.” You may begin to second-guess yourself and your writing. That is the death-knell of creativity.
So write it the way you want do your best to create a quality novel. Remember it’s your baby. And if people love it, great! And if they don’t? Just keep writing. What do “they” know anyway.
I’m not saying books should not get one star reviews. Just be cognizant of what you’re doing.
I’m also not saying you should not post reviews. Reviews are the bread and butter of Indie authors and will help their income.
DW is an author and an artist. He has been creating paintings and photographs for over 40 years. He lives in Eastern Kansas with his daughter, a large epileptic dog, three cats, and a barnyard of chickens and ducks.