Sunday, 8 January 2017

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The dull, dark days of January seem a good time to look back as well as forward. After all, the Romans saw Janus, after whom the month is named, as a god with two faces. He was considered to be the god of endings and beginnings and the god of doorways and gates. (Presumably that's how the word "janitor" came about.)

Mostly, I look forward to getting down to my new projects for the year, but I also find it useful to look over a few of my reviews from the previous year from time to time.

It's encouraging when readers write that they have really enjoyed my stories, but salutary to take into account criticism too. I'm glad to say that over the years I've been writing, most of my reviews have been favourable but like most writers, I get a few horrors. One hopes these are undeserved but when I get the occasional knock-back, I console myself with the fact that even the most famous writers sometimes suffered a rough ride at the hands of their reviewers.

Here are just a few examples.

The Great Gatsby, one of my particular favourites, was slated  by a reviewer who observed that 'Mr Scott Fitzgerald deserves to be shot.' Wuthering Heights  was described as, 'A compound of vulgar depravity and unnatural horrors.' While Madame Bovary drew the opinion from one critic that 'Monsieur Flaubert is not a writer.'

Let's face it, not many people would have the self-confidence to claim their writing rivals the classics, but when even Shakespeare was denigrated by his fellow playwright, Robert Green, we should all be able to withstand a bit of criticism. If it helps us to improve our work, it's an excellent thing. 

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