Anne B. Walsh - Do you believe in magic?

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Anne's Randomness


If someone invited you, O readers, to pursue a profession in which it was an ordinary part of business for anonymous strangers to casually walk up and gut-punch you or kick your teeth in, I think your response would probably be similar to the title of this post. No. Just no. Why should any sane person allow themselves to be hurt like that?
I have this feeling frequently, although the punches and kicks in my line of work tend to be verbal, not physical. Such as long-winded, critical anonymous reviews. This one, from someone signing themselves "Overanalyzing Fan", ran so very long that it actually maxed out the review function on and had to be continued in a second review.
I won't reproduce most of this person's criticisms here, because despite the self-righteous bracketing -- they began with something along the lines of "I don't feel right not letting you know how I feel about your writing" and ended with "Even if all you do is come up with reasons why I'm wrong, this will have been worth it" -- really, everything they had to say added up to the same thing: how dare I write my story in a way that didn't match their vision?
From OF's point of view, I'm sure their every criticism is valid and justified. The later books of the Dangerverse were so convoluted as to be dreadful... for them. A lot of the relationships among Pack and Pride were badly or incompletely developed... for them. There was too much focus on characters other than Harry... for them. I'm not going to bother coming up with reasons why they're wrong, because in their own head, they'll always be right, and nothing I could say here would change their mind.
But am I going to change how I write, based on the criticism of someone who wasn't even brave enough to sign their name to their endless ramble of "this is what I didn't like"? Am I going to revert to the way I wrote in 2006, which is when, according to them, my writing started going off the rails? Let me point you once again to the title of this post. No. No, I am not.
I have deleted the reviews of Overanalyzing Fan, for the simple reason that they are taking advantage of a quirk in the system to short-circuit the process of giving feedback. They have chosen to respond, at length, to my writing, but they have given me no way, other than public forums like this one, to respond to their response. That's not a conversation, that's a lecture, and I've been out of school since... well, since 2006! 
Am I certain that the way I'm handling this is the right one? Am I now filled with confidence and renewed energy, ready to charge back into the fray of writing? Once again, the finger points to the top of the page, to the title of this post. No. No, I'm not. I fear very much that OF speaks for a large number of people, that the last several years have made me a worse writer instead of a better one. And I'm feeling bruised and battered by such a relentless verbal pounding, with nowhere to hide from the endless strings of "and then you did THIS wrong".
But that title is also the answer to a far more important question. Am I going to give up because of this? Am I going to cower back and whimper, crawl away and hide, lick my wounds and swear never to write again, since it opens me up to this kind of pain?
No. No, I am not.
Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers, since I won't be posting again until after the holiday. I will try to get a Fiction Friday post out this week, but can't guarantee anything. It's you I'm thankful for more than anything this year, O readers. Yes, even the ones who hurt me. I'm not going to stand here and say "Thank you sir, may I have another", but sometimes pain teaches lessons that can't be learned any other way. (Such as how it feels to want, deeply and fervently, to go find somebody and kick their teeth in.)
Thank you for reading, and have a good rest of the week!

7 Comments to No. :

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NotACat on Tuesday, November 25, 2014 12:42 PM
Sounds fair to me. I look forward to your next wave of excellent work ;-)
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Anna L on Tuesday, November 25, 2014 2:37 PM
See I think he is wrong. Yes your writing is convoluted at times, but that is because my brain is too stupid or lazy to figure it out, and it all makes clear on a second re-read. Also your characters are real people,a nd I would have loved to meet them for real. Real life has gotten in the way of leaving a more substantial review for DV, but it will happen (adds it to the giant working list for vacation). Hang in there, we love your writing, and there will be detractors everywhere
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Amelia on Tuesday, November 25, 2014 10:46 PM
Well. Too much to comprehensively argue against since I have to do my homework, but I'd like to point out that I actually *preferred* the later stories, especially SD, because they were more convoluted...more opportunities for trying to figure things out! And I liked how you always (or almost always) had hints beforehand, even if they weren't obvious. Well, I also loved LwD, because little kids are cute, but that's beside the point.
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Lauren on Wednesday, November 26, 2014 2:04 AM
Convoluted? Ha. More like complex and interesting. Characters with layers and flaws. Foreshadowing that isn't immediately obvious and cultural references that make me laugh out loud. If you want a straightforward hero's quest go to one of the other million fanfics. The DV is not perfect, but is one of the most entertaining and well-written fictions (including those published) I have read for a while. I sincerely hope it gets published in a way which nets you money because it (and you) deserve it.
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Geoffrey on Wednesday, November 26, 2014 4:45 AM
Any time we act in public, we expose ourselves to public censure and criticism, often anonymously given. But I think you take it too personally, too much as an attack, don’t you? I’ve said it before, and it bears repeating: your fans want to communicate with you, they just don’t know how to say what they mean, and they end up saying the completely wrong things. I know I’ve done it from time to time. Obviously your overanalyzing fan liked your story, but misunderstood how to express that, misunderstood the purpose of the review, and fell into cliched norms that were completely inappropriate for the situation. Maybe OF felt he (she?) was being clever or thought he knew more than you, or understood story structure and character construction better.

But you already knew that such “reviewers” are saying more about themselves (at least at that moment) than about you. You just needed to rant, didn’t you? Feeling better?

Oh, and as long as I have your ear, it’s probably worth noting that you no longer own the Dangerverse. In the sense that it belongs now to your fans to make of it what they will, to interpret it how they choose, to mock it, distort it, or applaud it. As the writer, you no longer get a say in how we interpret it. You don’t get to say “No, this part here really means this.” So when OF criticizes your work, they’re ripping away something from the rest of us, something we value, and which we (in a sense) own. You’ve just got caught in the crossfire, and I’m really sorry about that.
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Haminac on Thursday, November 27, 2014 3:50 AM
Yes. Yes, you are. So there, my latin lessons forced me to write this since it was there I learned all about the art of rhetoric means I ever wanted to learn and more.... About convoluted writing: Yes. Yes, you are writing in slings instead of sentences sometimes, but I prefer that over boring straight line stuff I figured out after 10 minutes. Convoluted means "Too weird to grab it at once", yes. But it also means "Fun to read a quadruple times because there's always something to figure out still". So, it probably depends on personal taste which one you prefer, so I agree, for OF they are right. Which is ok as long as they don't get all high-handed and ignore personal feelings'n'stuff. I am pretty sure there is no author in this world who's style is loved by all of mankind, but that's nothing I can present valid data (Recension on Amazon? There's always someone giving one star, simply saying "I don't link it, don't buy it!"). What I want to say is: OF is right in their own way, but that doesn't mean they can't have bad manners. And certainly I have to reject the thought fiercely that they are speaking for a large number of your readers, because honestly, the people who don't like the convoluted style simply won't stick with your stories long enough to give this detailed review. Maybe OF was just frustrated because they couldn't bring themselves to stop reading. Happens to everybody, to take it out on a personal level is bad manners (see above). I love your writing style and I call it multi-layered :] What's not to love there? Cuddles! Haminac
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Julia on Saturday, November 29, 2014 3:06 AM
To be honest, I don't really remember how much your style of writing has changed over the course of the Dangerverse. I've been reading along for quite a while so I've never read early and later chapters side by side. Thinking about it, they did get more complicated with more subplots, because the Pack stopped acting as one unit and the Pride started doing their own thing. Obviously a family with small kids is mostly going to stick together and when the kids get older, they start having their own lives and making decisions. But I certainly never thought that your writing was getting worse and I continued to wait anxiously to read more and not just because I needed to find out how it ended, but because I continued to enjoy reading. And I loved that Harry was not the only focus and that other characters were completely developed and not just in their relationships with Harry.
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