August 18, 2015

I'm a prize!

Nice people rock my world. The unbelievably awesome Angell Brooks is running a contest and offering Alison After Dark as the prize! What do you have to do to enter? Submit a writing prompt here. (Before Thursday!)

How cool is that?

In other news, I read that the New York Times wrote a piece about Amazon and that Amazon responded. What the first piece said and what the response was are unimportant to me. What I love about the story is that Amazon received basically a review—do you see where I'm going here?—and pushed back.

(I didn't read the NYT piece. I did read this.)

As writers, we're instructed not to respond to reviews. But sometimes things have felt so unfair to me that I've come a little unglued. Once, a reviewer responded to my response. He called the mail "Karma for Critics," and he said it took having his own work torn apart before he understood truly what I was talking about. I treasure his email.

There actually is precedence for responding to reviews. (In The New York Times Book Review writers are always telling their sides in the letters.)

I'm mostly over my need to respond or to put things right. But my guess is that in this world of Yelps and other online review sites we are only going to see more pushing back. People who had no problem taking apart others limb by limb may feel differently as we enter this era in which everyone and everything can be starred up or thumbs-downed.

I just wonder if most people will be as self-aware as the reviewer who wrote to me.

Last year, I saw a reviewer happily and viscerally demolish a book. When her own work was subsequently critiqued, she went ballistic.

As someone who has been on the receiving end of reviews for 25 years, I've got something of a head start. I liked what the Amazon employee said about The Golden Rule (in the article I linked to above). I think the best thing anyone can do is remember there is a human on the other end of the computer. If you're writing about someone, think about how you'd feel if someone said those words about you.

Honestly, it's that simple.


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