I had an interesting lesson in perspective last week when I received my second review for No Right Thing.

Perspective is all about our individual reality.  A luscious, triple decker ice cream cone viewed through the eyes of a hungry five-year-old will elicit a far different reaction than the same ice cream cone viewed through the eyes of a diabetic adult who also has a heart condition.

On an intellectual level I understand that my taste in movies, restaurants, shoes, art, politicians or books may not be your taste. That’s a good thing. Diversity is healthy.

Intellectually, I also understand that reviewers have different tastes too. The key word in that sentence is intellectually. Because even with over 20 books published, I still have the ability to be emotionally impacted by a less than stellar review.

Kirkus was the first to review No Right Thing. You can find that review here:

CM magazine was up next with their review for No Right Thing.  That review is here:

Same book, two different readers. One found the plot predictable and the main character one dimensional. The other found the plot richly layered and the main character fascinating.

The Kirkus review upset me. I’d be lying if I said otherwise. I had a few rough days wondering if I’d failed in what I set out to achieve in the novel. Kirkus and CM reviews are read by the bookstore owners, librarians and educators who are trying to decide where to allocate their book buying funds. A bad review in that kind of publication can make a major difference to a writer’s bottom line.

I had to remind myself that reviews are, as one writer friend used to say, out of my sphere of influence. There is nothing I can do to influence them. All I can do is write the books, send them out into the world, and hope they are well-received.

My lesson for the week was the reminder that perspective is subjective. Perspective comes from personal taste, life experiences and expectations, among other things. It varies from moment to moment, day to day, mood to mood. And it certainly varies from person to person.

Not only should I remember that but I should celebrate it too. Because what kind of world would it be if we all thought and believed the same thing?  

6 thoughts on “Perspective

  1. Such opposite opinions on a book, or a meal, or anything else one could name, happen all the time, because people do have such diverse perspectives. When I’m considering buying a book, I read all kinds of reviews. But because I know that I may hate what someone loves, and vice versa, I don’t pay a lot of attention to the opinions expressed. So why do I bother reading reviews? So that I can get an overall “sense” of the book. Also, sometimes the reviewer will reveal factual information that sways my decision. As a writer, one can only hope that bookstore buyers also understand the limitations inherent in reviews.

    1. Exactly, Lea. Like you, I read reviews for many things – not just books. I’m looking for an overall sense of a book, movie, restaurant, or a product. Those bits of factual information are helpful too. And it’s always important to remember those diverse perspectives . . .

  2. I can definitely understand being upset by a less than stellar review, but as you point out and are well aware, it is all very subjective. I’ve read books, seen movies and eaten at restaurants that came with excellent reviews but I didn’t care for them. Conversely, I’ve read books I loved and bought albums I liked that got panned in some reviews. It’s hard to please everyone! But it’s important to please ourselves. If we like and feel good about what we’ve created, that is what really counts.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Debra. That’s such a great point – that the most important thing is that we feel good about what we’ve created. In the end, all we can control is our own efforts.

  3. It is interesting how reviews can alter our thinking. I had a reviewer go on in great length about one of my YA novels. And at the end of her rant, she basically said that the novel needed to be longer. Sigh! Still she rated it quite high.
    And basically it boils down to this. We write the best story that we can. And then we release it to the world. And after that it flies on it’s own wings.

    1. Jodie, you’re so right. We release our books and it’s a lot like raising children. We do the best we can, we put them out in the world, and they fly on their own wings!

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