Sally Field moments
Here are some updates on various things.
First all, I apologize to anyone who went to find me last Saturday. The chat on Facebook lasted all of about ten minutes and consisted almost entirely of me frantically communicating with Dreamspinner’s social-media boffin about just why exactly it was that I couldn’t post anything, then about where the page had gone. She didn’t know, either.
So yeah, I managed to kill off DSP’s Facebook fan page. Apparently my powers are growing. Everyone has one special skill. I once thought that mine was to find barcodes that wouldn’t scan at the supermarket. Without fail, every week when I do the marketing I find at least one item that doesn’t show up no matter how many times the clerk waves it over the scanner.
But no more. I’m unsure, however, whether this superpower applies only to Facebook, which would be cool enough, give its creepy privacy policies, or whether or not with a little effort and a can-do spirit, I might be able to take out other, more objectionable webpages. I’d explore the issue but when you boil it down, I’m really pretty lazy. I mean, there’s a reason I’m a writer: too lazy to work, too anxious to turn to a life of crime.
Amos Lassen posted the first review of Rocking the Boat, and definitely liked the book. I won’t reprint the whole things, but a few choice snipets are in order.
“Rocking the Boat” is the first thing I have read by Christopher Koehler and he is off to a wonderful literary beginning.
I will…tell you that the characters that Koehler creates are wonderfully fleshed out and real and the writing is excellent. I could not help be reminded a bit of Patricia Nell Warren’s “The Front Runner”.
It is great fun discovering new writers and I have a feeling we will be hearing more from Christopher Koehler so keep him on your periscope.
To be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about the comparison with The Frontrunner. I mean, it’s flattering, don’t get me wrong. I just feel like Warren’s book is such a classic that there’s no way my little confection could equal that.
It’s also a lot to live up to. Not to jinx anything, but people’s whose freshman efforts receive nothing but laurels tend to produce sucky sophomore efforts. I’m aiming for a sustained writing career, obviously, and not a flash in the pan. See above statement about laziness and crime.
I also wonder about The Frontrunner’s relevance anymore. When it was published, it was a big deal, an early positive depiction of gay characters, gay athletes in particular. Like The Best Little Boy in the World, it’s classic work that every well-read reader of gay fiction needs to have at least glanced at. But in this day and age, LGTB people are well represented in the media, and there are many (nonporn) webpages devoted to gay athletes. It’s a different world, and I’d like to think, a better one. It’s that change, however, that turns critical works into classics that no one reads.
On other but related fronts, I’ve received my first responses from readers. People I don’t know, I mean. They’ve liked it. So here’s a shout-out to Brian and Rachel and Ami!
So yeah, I’ve already had my own little Sally Field moment.
And speaking of reviews, there’ve been reader reviews published on Goodreads. Okay, one review, one that seems to consist of someone duplicating the number of stars he or she gave me with keyboard characters. I’m not complaining. It was a 4-star review.
I’m not quite sure what to make of Goodreads. I’ve no complaints with the reviews, including and especially the one that let me know I adequately addressed the biggest fear I had about RTB’s reception, namely the fact that a coach’s involvement with an athlete could be viewed as predation. Is viewed, in fact, by pretty much all the appropriate regulatory bodies governing sport. I think I covered the reasons for this pretty well in the book, given that Nick’s prone to gnawing his guts out.
But I won this reviewer, a former teacher, over. After all, Morgan’s an adult, and as he pointed out to Nick, he has agency, too.
That said, Goodread’s policy about reviewing/rating a book makes no sense to me—you don’t have to have read the book because to require that would be “censorship.” No joke. It is not, apparently, censorship, however, to require authors agree to not engage reviewers.
I can understand that. Writers are notoriously thin-skinned, and the temptation to “correct” either factual errors about the book or rebut a negative review overwhelms some of us. For the record, I don’t think engaging someone who wrote a negative review is a good idea, and I don’t plan to do it unless it’s a point I hadn’t thought of, or if it is and I have specific reasons for writing what I did. But we shall see.
Anyway, reviews are readers’ opinions, no more and no less, no matter how ill-informed…or positive and glowing.
This reminds of the review policy of the American Historical Review, the premier journal for academic history in the US. Only those who’ve written books review them, the logic being that only authors understand the frankly arduous process of constructing a narrative that makes sense. I’ll avoid going into my pet theories of text and the construction of a story, but suffice it to say a novel is an unwieldy thing that at times fights its creator’s attempts to impose his or her structure on it.
This is totally unworkable with fiction, of course, and even more undesirable. The whole point of fiction is to reach a comparatively large audience, not just the small world of one’s fellow authors. Talk about a circle jerk. But just how does requiring the reading a book before posting a review constitute censorship?
Actually, writers aim not only to reach, but hopefully engage with a larger audience, and not everyone will love you. It’s an important lesson to learn, and not just for writers.