Wednesday, June 18, 2014

My Guest: Melodie Ramone

My Guest this week tackles a subject dear to the heart of any writer... Nuclear Physics. No, seriously, Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present...




Melodie Ramone

Reviews, Nuclear Physics and cashiers!


It is such a common theme in our lives as writers. We got a bad review, it ruined our day. We went into our writer’s group and vented. Our friends came to the rescue and voted down the review. We felt better. And if we’ve got the skin it takes to make it in this business, we jumped right back into Word and began a new chapter in a new story.

I often wonder why writers bother to read their reviews. I know that seems counter-intuitive, but I rarely ever do and I’ll tell you why. It’s not that I don’t understand that most of us spend hours upon hours, days upon days, working on
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our stories. What’s a story if nobody reads it? So, of course, we want to know what readers thought. But what happens when they don’t like it? In a nutshell, it hurts like crazy and anybody who writes has trouble exactly pinpointing why.

Well, I can. It’s because those words we wrote mean so much to us. It’s like being pregnant for ten months while another organism inhabits your body and destroys you from the inside, makes your brain shrink to the point where you are clinically insane and then you spend weeks in hard labor only to end up with a c-section where the editor rips the thing out of your guts and slaps it on its brand new, pink bottom until it screams. It’s a relief to have it on sale, it’s a joy the book’s been born, but, really, it’s been such a toil. You’re destroyed mentally (sometimes physically depending on if you took the time to eat or sleep) and you’re permanently scarred from the process. But the book’s yours. You created it. You dress it in a lovely book cover that you also tormented yourself over and bring it out into public, hoping that people will see the beauty of what you have done. And then – WHAM! There’s the insensitive person who looks at it and cries, “Holy heaven! What is THAT monstrosity! Kill it before it lays eggs!”

It’s crushing. The truth is we get too close. We get too attached to our work. We fall in love with our characters (literally), we become fascinated with the scenery. We become intertwined with the meaning inside the cover. We build a home in a little fantasy world and there we escape our actuality. The story becomes our happy place and the safety of going there after a long day of reality is intoxicating. We look forward to it. We want to share it and we want people to love it as much as we do. The practicality is, not everybody is going to and that’s just not our fault.
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A bad review is genuinely no reflection on a writer. It’s more a reflection on the reader. Think of it this way. If we were at a dinner party and six of the seven guests were Nuclear Physicists and the other was a cashier, the cashier probably wouldn’t have a very good time. She’d either be intimidated, annoyed or bored silly. She’d be left out of the conversation. If it was the opposite and the Physicist was the odd man out, he’d probably pick the cashier’s conversation to bits as trivial. Point being? Inviting either was a mistake. They didn’t understand the conversation. The same goes for a book. We send an open invitation for people to come to our party and find a place at our table. Not everybody’s going to like what we serve. That’s not our fault. They just joined the wrong gathering.

I see authors all the time agonizing over what they think readers are going to like, actually catering to an anticipation of what will be demanded. It’s an energy drain. Not that one shouldn’t care what readers think, quite the opposite, but the trick about that is to find the RIGHT readers. That’s where targeting an audience comes in, which is a skill you gain along the way of mastering your marketing. Even with all of that down to a science, there will always be a party crasher who buys a book they shouldn’t have read and hates it. Occasionally, that person will fire off a horrible review. It’s their opinion, they are entitled to it, and it hurts to read it. But the truth is that you probably weren’t talking to them to begin with. They came to your table, you didn’t directly invite them and you certainly didn’t force your book on them. This being said, why should you care what they think?

The best advice I can give any author is to write what they want from their own heart and not worry about what other people are going to say about it. There are many voices out there. Some will think you are wonderful, others will hate what you do. Not all of them are trolls. Some of them were just reading a book that’s wrong for them. Again, their loss and not the author’s problem. If there are enough good reviews,
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authors who obsess over the bad ones are really only harming themselves. They are there for balance and, honestly, in this business, balance is a goal. It helps us improve. Distressing over every bad review is poison to the joy of the writing process. We need to stay in the middle and do what we do, regardless of the feedback. If we’re doing it right, we’ll land somewhere near the center, maybe a little to the high side. All that reflects is that people are buying your book and that is ALWAYS a good thing. The more that read, the closer you should fall somewhere near the center.

You own what you write the way you own your children. You can only bring them to this world, love them, put all you can into their formation, watch them grow strong and send them out into the world with the faith that you have done all you could and they have what it takes to make it in a big, messy, wonderful, topsy-turvy universe. Beyond that, what people think of them is not up to you. Love the stories anyway. Let the voices of those who don’t understand roll past. Write another book with joy. Trust the process. Look for balance with enthusiasm and no matter what comes your way, never give up. Your stories are yours and you are the only one who can tell them. If somebody can’t relate, that’s fine. Somebody else always will. You never need to worry about either, because both opinions will be there should you choose to take a peek at your reviews. But keep in mind that you certainly are never required to torture yourself. That is a choice you make on your own and may be one of the only things in this business you actually can control.   

Notes:

Reviews for Melodie Ramone’s work can be seen on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.  She is currently in the editing process of her upcoming novel 'Burning Down Rome', slated for release in autumn 2014. The image for 'Burning Down Rome' is only a placemarker and is not meant to represent the book's cover.

Bio:

"I'm a keeper of fuzzy critters, author, speaker and certified Kitchen Witch. When I'm not creating Culinary magic, I can usually be found writing stories, reading books, relentlessly tweeting, knitting or delving into fringe Physics. Super geek? Oh, yeah. 
 
I'm obsessed with the Science of Physics, particularly Particle Physics, although in the last few years I am drawn more and more toward Astronomy. I’m fascinated with Outer Space and what’s going on out there. Hubble and the Mars Rovers have sparked a passion in me that goes back to the first time I saw Star Wars. And that was a long, long time ago. I’m a curious person by nature. I want to know everything about everything, I want to see it. I want to understand it so I can understand the origins of our universe. But, then again, I want to understand everything in general.

In short, I’m a happy person. I’m not perfect and I’m not entirely sane, but I don’t pretend to be. In the end, when I look back at my life I will see an amazing smear of color. All the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, the strength and weakness that was me. I’ll see all I did and all I failed at. And I will sigh and I will say that I lived. I really, truly lived. I was real. I wrote books. And that, I think, will be good enough for me."


When Melodie is not writing, staring at the stars or conjuring in the kitchen, she can be contacted at:

Website:  http://www.melodieramone.com/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Melodie_Ramone

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/melodie.ramone

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6540025.Melodie_Ramone


Thank you Melodie for a superb article which presents a refreshing look at the writer's relationship with the reviewer. Best wishes for 'Burning Down Rome'.

Eric @ www.ericjgates.com




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