Friday, February 24, 2012

The Big Bad, Part 2: Reviews That Suck

Something happened yesterday which reminds me that the way I deal with bad reviews kind of works. I'm loathe to mention any bad reviews about my work but there was one written about my novel, Fall From Grace. I read the first line and based on that, I didn't continue. Some of my friends read the rest of it and said I was smart to stop. It was mean, they said. Almost personal. Those comments almost enticed me to read the rest of this review, but I held back. I let out my annoyance in private, took a deep breath and then figured out on my response.

I had the e-mail address of the editor of the publication in which this bad review appeared. I had fed him a tip on a story and he had also quoted me a couple times for other pieces. I wanted him to know that I was aware of the bad review but I didn't want to create a scene and burn a bridge. So I sent him an e-mail with the subject line: Angry Writer responds to review. I knew when he saw that he would shake his head and think "Fuck". He didn't write the review but he did put it in his publication. But I also knew he wouldn't erase the e-mail; he's the kind of editor who would read it no matter how angry and mean the response would be.

It really helped that the bad review appeared on April 1, so when actually read the text of the e-mail the first two words were: "April Fools." The rest of the e-mail was short, only asking if he was still interested in doing some kind of profile on me, but also saying that I wasn't angry about the review because bad reviews happen. I've written them myself. And that was it. No admonishments, no complaints that the reviewer didn't understand my book, no anger.

The editor's responded in two ways: first, he tweeted to his thousands of followers that my reaction to the review was one of the classiest things he'd seen in a long time. And second, when I contacted him this week and asked to be the Guest Editor for his books section around the time my next book, A Killing Winter, comes out, he immediately said yes. The Guest Editor gig is for one week. I write four stories about me, my books, etc. for a major national publication. Every day they run my piece, they run an image of the cover of my book and a short description of it, and of me. That's some great free, wide-reaching publicity that will sell a bunch of books.

And the best part is that I might even get paid for it.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Getting to Know Me

Okay, if you really want to know me, this post from the Vancouver International Writers Festival, explains it all. I hope this satisfy you.

Friday, February 17, 2012

How to Date a Writer, Really

I saw a post on CBC's CanadaWrites page, one that's been shared amongst writers on FB. I had to respond. Here's the original post:

And here's my response.

How to Date a Writer, Really.

1. Writers have visions of grandeur because they’re brave enough to put their work out there. And they’ve been rejected over and over again for a variety of reasons, their work wasn’t Canadian enough or it was too Canadian, it was too literary or too much of a genre work; you name it, a writer’s been rejected because of it. So they’ve had to developed strong self-esteem about their work.

2. Sure it helps if you like a writer's work, but you don’t have to. A smart writer understands that not everyone likes their work. As long as you respect them for what they do, you’ll be fine.

3. Some writers are moody, some aren’t. Some accountants are moody and some aren’t. Everyone has an inner life and everyone else has problems. If you don’t like a moody person, then don’t date a moody person.

4. Not all writers are financially insecure. If you only write fiction or poetry, without doing anything else, then you might be financially insecure. Then again, you might be successful and make money at writing. If your writer love does that, don’t call them a sellout. Actually a lot of the writers I know also work for a living, either writing or other stuff. Some of them are the only bread winner. And if actually push a writer to make some money, they might even become a better writer because of it.

5. Good God, please only be eccentric if you are eccentric. One thing writers hate is someone trying to be something they aren’t.

6. Maybe you’ll turn up in their work, maybe you won’t. Some writers rely on their personal lives to create and others use their imaginations. Whatever you do, don’t go looking for yourself in their work because you could be mistaken.

7. If my wife walks in on me while I’m wearing underwear, leafing through a book of photographs and putting out a cigarette in a bowl of ice cream, I hope she interrupts me. For one thing, we don’t allow smoking in the house and I don’t smoke anyway. And I’m not that delicate that I'll lose an idea just because you interrupt me while I’m thinking about it Also, like every relationship, don’t walk on eggshells. Writers hate it when you do that.

8. Based on a recent survey I heard on the radio, it seems that everyone was picked on as a kid at some point. And not all writers are/were weird. Some of us were just normal kids who read books. Some even played sports like hockey. Or we didn’t smell erasers. Some of us even like talking to people at wedding and other social events. We’re a diverse group, us writers.

9. Don’t know about other writers, but when I’m on a roll, I’m able to stop, interact with other people, and then get back to that roll. It’s just something I developed working as a professional writer for 25 years. When you got to pay the bills you can’t wait for inspiration.

10. My wife, who is not a writer, is better at writing notes in cards than me. I can write a decent book or magazine piece but she does all the notes. But whatever you do, if you date a writer, don’t pigeonhole them based on stereotypes. That’s just annoying.