I’ve been neglecting my blog, for which I apologize to you. What has kept me away from finishing the half dozen blogettes I have waiting on my laptop is the pressure to produce the next book in the Bite Back series. This is not your fault, for reasons which I’ll come to. Suffice to say, at the moment, I would be head down in book writing this morning were it not for a conversation I had yesterday.
To set the scene, let me re-state that I seldom get upset by reviews. This is, in part, because ‘I have all the sensitivity of a rhinoceros’. However, that throwaway line doesn’t really capture the essence of what happens when I read reviews of my books, and I read every review I come across. The process I go through is split between emotional and rational. It’s very left brain – right brain. If the review is positive, I use it to polish my ego, which lives in my right brain, and then mentally add weight in the writing engine to the things mentioned. If the review is negative, I throw it at a set of analytical cogs in the left brain. These are:
What is the reviewer *really* saying?
Is it justified?
Do I want to change anything?
By the time the review is spat out of those cogs, there’s little emotional charge left. Anything I think I should change gets added in to the weights in the reading room.
The final decision on change, incidentally, for both positive and negative reasons, I leave to the future me when I’m actually at the point of plotting or writing about whatever it is that was mentioned in the review.
All of which is fine, and I recommend the system to any writer. And all of which is bypassed when I get feedback verbally. There are different parts of the brain engaged when the ‘review’ is in a conversation as opposed to a written text.
It’s not as if I haven’t received this feedback before, but it completely missed the analytical engine and went straight into the right brain and pissed me off.
The offending comment was ‘vampires are such an overdone theme’.
I have a deep well of witty rejoinders and cutting phrases, but along with 99.9% of the population, this well is capped off while I’m actually up on my hind legs and trying to speak. And the person making the comment is a friend and a writer. All I managed was my standard defense – ‘I’m enjoying writing it as much as many people seem to be enjoying reading it.’ Whatever.
With the conversation over, I retrieved the comment and sent it to the analytical cogs.
She said the area is overdone. That means there are a lot of books about vampires. Yeah? How many books are there about crime? Am I being unfair? Okay, how many books about murder? Still unfair?
Okay, how many books about serial killers? Yes, but people are now saying that serial killers are overdone, too. Fine, how many books are there where boy meets girl, they begin by hating each other and then fall in love? How many books are there about aliens? How many books are there about medieval kingdoms? With magic or dragons? Or both?
The vampire arena is *not* full. There is no reason to say that there are too many books about vampires any more than there are too many books about serial killers, romance, aliens or epic fantasy.
What she was really saying was that a lot of the books about vampires aren’t worth reading.
Whether she is justified or not will have to be another blog, because I promised myself I would spend no more than an hour on this. But to short circuit my analytical cogs and come to the last question – the answer is no, I’m not going to stop writing about Athanate just because there are a lot of books about vampires.
It is not your fault I’m feeling under pressure. The writing pressures at the moment come about because I’ve decided to spend more time writing the prequel than on Wild Card – about a ratio of 2:1. I know, if you’re reading this blog, you’re likely to want that ratio reversed at the least. But sitting here as an Indie author, I have to think about marketing and timing, and I believe a freebie prequel will mean a whole lot more people get to enjoy Wild Card a month or two later than anticipated.
Having thought through all my cutting rejoinders, I emailed my friend and told her I rejected her comment and listed the reasons why. I got a <LOL> back, and her own rejoinder, that if we were now going to have this conversation by email, she would apply her own analytical cogs to prove her case. I await her email.