Are any of you out there a writer as well as a reader? I am. For as long as I can remember, I have been writing stories as well as devouring them in book format. I, like many writers (or so I tell myself), am simultaneously really proud of the stories I manage to write and also think they’re kind of horrendous and/or boring.
I started with short stories for school and in grade nine I had a really terribly angsty poetry phase to go along with my really terribly angsty stories. I used to carry around this binder full of stories that I had written on lined paper and there were pages and pages of drama and cutesy romances. I would share them with my friends and they were always really supportive.
As I got older, I wrote longer pieces. I heard about NaNoWriMo from a friend and told myself I could never do that. But I still ended up writing a ‘novel’ of about 100 pages set in my home town in hopes of getting a scholarship when I was in my last year of high school. I didn’t get it. But then I went off to university, and decided to try to do NaNoWriMo while in the midst of my first year of university. It was the worst and the best time of my life and it was so rewarding to actually finish that month. I have done NaNoWriMo five times (with a recent .5 experience where I wrote 10k words in April while teaching full time), and every time I have loved and hated it.
Writing is always a sensitive subject for me. I love it, and I am incredibly passionate about it, but I am also very shy and protective of my writing. I want to publish a book some day but at the same time, I am terrified of the idea of my book being out there in the world and I am terrified of what other people might hypothetically, potentially say about it. This is why I have a very hard time giving books low ratings.
Typically my book ratings fall between three to five. A five is I loved it a lot, and was a little blown away. A four was a solid reading experience. I enjoyed myself and had a good time in the book. A three tends to be as low as I will go. It was still a decent reading experience but definitely not my favourite. The last thing I vividly remember rating a two (and I don’t think I’ve ever given a book a one star) is The Cursed Child (for very understandable reasons, and I’m sure others gave it a lower rating), but even that I struggled with.
Writing is hard, and I’m sure that the publishing process can make it even harder. For me, it is really hard to put my work out there and I don’t always deal well with criticism, unless it’s constructive. So I project my thoughts about how it would feel to recieve a bad review or rating onto the author’s of the books I read. It feels mean to leave a bad review. The author of that book worked so hard (I assume) and they put their heart and soul into that book. That book is their baby, because my books are my babies. So how could I look at that baby, that book, and tell it it’s not good enough?
I know that that is totally ridiculous. I know that I shouldn’t worry about being mean, because I’m allowed to have a different opinion than the masses and that it’s okay not to feel the exact same way as the next person does about the book. I also know that not every book is good, but every time my brain tries to tell my heart that, my heart refuses to listen.
So I guess the purpose of this post is to see if any of you out there feels the same way as me? Do you have a hard time giving a low rating to a book? Or is that not a problem? Do you have any tips for me in working on being a more critical reviewer? Or should I stay just the way I am?