Stick Figures

Why I Want to Be Published: A Somewhat Meta Review of Reviews

imageI don’t write negative book reviews.  My reasons for this are mostly selfish.  Perhaps one day I’ll be lucky enough to get published and a hypothetical bunch of people will write somewhat flattering reviews of my book…though I suppose scathingly harsh reviews wouldn’t be so bad (because, as the cliché goes, there’s no such thing as bad publicity).  But writers hope for good reviews since they’ve struggled to send that over-edited block of textual thought (which is, in the end, a rather solid abstraction of the fluid, unattainable work of the imagination) out into the universe…and they’re hoping to see ripples come back.

My husband once asked me, “Why is it so important to you that you get published?” The question stumped me.  I had plenty of reasons for writing–some selfish, some not– but publishing is more an issue of connectedness.  I don’t want fame.  I want people to have read my words, empathize with the characters, lose themselves a little bit in their lives, and be haunted by the ghost of the book even after they turned the last page.  I want them to think about it later.  That would mean something in the essence of the book moved from short-term enjoyment to long-term effect.  I want to–as corny as it sounds–move someone.

They say art is a mirror to life–that we react to books and paintings and music and other abstractions with the essence of the human element in them because we see something of ourselves.  So…if I make art, does it count as art if nobody is there to experience it?  (Insert tree falling in the woods metaphor here!)  Well, I suppose, I am reading it.  I see surprising bits of myself in my writing and react to them, so I guess there’s that.  But how much more cool is it to know that someone else read your human bits and are approximating the same thing that you are–that they are also human and their humanness is reacting to your humanness.  Fire catching fire.

And what if someone who read my book was kind enough to write a review?  That review would be another block of textual, abstracted, thoughty bits, but in it, I might see evidence of the fire I set.  And I guess that would make me feel…warm. 🙂

Michelle Joyce Bond

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33 thoughts on “Why I Want to Be Published: A Somewhat Meta Review of Reviews

  1. There is something both scary and comforting to know someone is reading our words. It makes us vulnerable, too though. I wasn’t prepared for that vulnerability when my book came out. Was a bit unnerving. 🙂

  2. Exactly. I’ve spoken often of the mirror, how I seek to hold it up in every post. At least try. I ask myself in every post, “What’s in it for them?” My wonderful readers, that is.

  3. Someone I know writes books with no intention of publishing. She tells me I feature in one of them. I tell her that writing is a form of communication, so why not communicate? She is obdurate. She also tells me there is no such thing as poetry.

    I have not explained her motivation because I can’t.

  4. I self published a book of very self revealing poetry, not really in hopes of making a lot of money, but for self accomplishment and for a lot of the reasons you described. It was a satisfying feeling; and yet I was terrified about what people would think. I got over it. I’m proud to have my book on my self along side all the other well known books. It will be much easier for my family to read in the future than to have to make heads or tails of all my scribbled journals and spiral notebooks. I have 2 fitness books in the works and another poetry book planned. You should try it 🙂

  5. Having others connect with your writing is a great feeling. When one of the few people who’ve read my book bring up a character and talk about her like a real person it makes me all tingly inside. They’ve really thought about this person, identified with them and continue to think about them after the’ve put the book down. It’s an awesome feeling. But I’ll be honest, getting some monetary compensation would be nice too 🙂

  6. What really pushed me over the edge to work towards publishing was that intense desire for people to read my book. For a long time the writing was just for me and I hoarded it to myself like King Midas in his treasure room. And then something shifted – I wanted other people to get to know my characters and their stories. And not just a little! I wanted it a lot. Once you go over that tipping point there is not going back.

    1. I’m glad your bringing your writing into the light! It happened like that for me, too–I wrote for myself all through high school (took a break during college and my first crazy years teaching) then decided to write toward publication. That was several years ago now, but I feel like I’m getting closer with every book–writing (hopefully better) each time. 🙂

  7. I can relate wholeheartedly. Your post resonated with me. I’ve felt quite the same for a long time. I must say, when that contract hits your laptop, you’ll never be the same. Yet, I’m still excited to self-publish because, either way, reaching readers is what’s important to me. Keep writing and keep dreaming! It will happen, one way or another. Best of luck and keep us posted 🙂

  8. Although I have no want for being published, I can completely understand why someone would. To think that someone felt something. The fact that your writing lit a fire in their mind which inspired them to write, comment, or criticize. If they write or comment you inspired, and if they criticize, you receive a unique perspective that you may have lacked before.
    Best of luck and thank you for posting, I enjoyed it 🙂

    -Mykul

    1. I like how you bring up not just positive comments but critical analysis. Weirdly, I look forward to having my writing criticized. I even know a blogger who writes tons of negative reviews and plan on asking contacting her to write one for me should I ever be published. 🙂

  9. There is a definite deportation between constructive criticism, not liking a book, and being a jack hole. Know those lines of separation before reading any reviews in your direction of course, but don’t be unwilling to write a negative review, just make sure it is constructive, which I’ve no doubt it would be.

    Also, Dave does have a plain way of stating things sometimes, doesn’t he?

  10. I could not have said this better myself! It isn’t about fame but more sharing and connecting with people on a different level using your art as a medium to do so! As a writer, it’s awesome to set goals such as getting published when there are not that many clear-cut goals in the field!

  11. I’m the same way with reviews. Like you said, it’s good to just get reviews at all…but still, negative reviews hurt. I know that feeling first hand and simply can’t bring myself to make another author feel that way.

  12. Well I think you are taking the right approach by making it all about the work instead of status. But I do believe negative reviews are a lot like YouTube videos because there will always a certain crowd who will hit the dislike button. We can’t please everyone and a lot of the time it has a lot to do with possessing different perspectives in life. I am confident you will do swell with your approach so good luck on top of your guaranteed career ^_^

    1. Thank you, Antonio. I do worry a bit over negative reviews but hope to crush them under a very heavy pair of rose-colored glasses. I guess I’d just be happy to be known enough that a certain group of people would deem my work worthy of reading and criticizing. 🙂 Also, thank you for supporting me by liking so many posts on my page!

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