Here's the thing. I have no delusions of grandeur when it comes to my success as a writer. I am well aware that I have not really been successful at all, and I have learned to accept that. It sucked for a while, but considering my plans for repackaging and reinventing, perhaps it is best that there aren't a lot of my books in circulation out there. And whilst I am grateful for everyone who has acknowledged my work, I know I don't have some kind of huge fandom. That is also okay with me. More than okay, as a matter of fact. Mostly I feel that way because I think there are some people out there who don't know how to be a proper fan, or more accurately, a proper admirer. Not all, but some.
I've noticed this quite a bit in the community of people who claim to love books and the writers who create them, and many of them are fiercely loyal. Sometimes, TOO fiercely, but that's another discussion. Still, even when they love a book or a writer, they are often willing to give criticisms, which is very good, and I think most writers will agree with me. Now, whilst I don't mind if you just straight up tell me that you think my writing is awful, as it is your opinion and I never EVER want to silence anyone for having an opinion, I do prefer constructive criticism, because I'm always looking to improve myself and that can be very helpful. So, I consider critiques something to be welcomed, again, as I'm sure most writers do.
However, there is something I've noticed getting mixed in with said critiques. Sometimes it's underlying; sometimes it's blatant. And that something is trying to tell writers what they should be writing. "Grrr" times ten. Yes, there are few things more annoying to a writer than a bunch non-writers telling us what to write. I've been seeing this a lot lately, A LOT, and it is awful, especially when it comes from people who say they love books and those who create them.
Honestly, if you say you love a writer, why are you trying to change who they are and what they do? And even if you DON'T love them, why? It is not your place to do this. When it comes to expressing what you want to see in books, giving an opinion is one thing, but telling specific authors what their content should be is just too much. And practically shaming them because they didn't write what YOU think they should have written? I can't even. If you think a book should have certain types of characters or tell certain types of stories or have certain types of messages, then go write that yourself. OR find someone with books that contain every item on your literary checklist. Do not - DO NOT! - tell a writer what to write. It is extraordinarily disrespectful to do so. If you don't like what they're doing, don't read it. Simple as that. Don't dictate what they do or how they work, because you risk making them into a different artist altogether.
If I may mention something as an example, I recently watched an interview with Donna Tartt. If you don't know who Donna Tartt is, she is a very successful and well-loved writer, who, from 1992 to 2013, only published three novels. Many people are not happy about this, because they really love her writing and they want more of it, obviously. And they probably think she should write faster, something I am certain they are not silent about. Well, in this interview, she mentioned that, at one point, she tried, really tried, to write faster, and you know what? She didn't like it. She didn't enjoy writing when she was doing it at this pace that didn't suit her. So she stopped and went back to her routine. And God bless her for that, because changing her process would have made her a different writer and made her produce different work. Work that would not truly please anyone, least of all herself, because it would not have been a proper representation of who she is. And that would have been tragic.
Now let me reiterate something, as I feel it is necessary. I do not have an issue with criticism. In fact, I think writers should listen to it, whether it comes from fans or fellow artists, because you never know what you might hear that might help. But no writer should ever let anyone dictate their imagination. It does a disservice to everyone, to the craft and to the story that wants to be told. And as far as the fans go, if you love a writer, love them for who they are, not what you think they should be, or just don't love them at all. The bottom line is this. Find good books. Read good books. Love good books. And just let everything else go.
Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer