So, let’s say you wrote a book. And the reviews start coming in. One review is five stars and reads: I loved this book! The characters were wonderful and I stayed up all night to finish it. It’s my new favorite book!
Then another review comes in. It is one star and reads: I hated this book. The characters were one-dimensional. I couldn’t even finish the book. Don’t waste your money.
Now you have two conflicting reviews. Which review is right?
The answer is both. Both reviews are correct. Because a review is an opinion. It’s a reader’s opinion. It is valuable and it is correct.
Books are art. Art is subjective. There is no right or wrong way to write a book. So, all reviews are correct.
The bigger question is… should an author change his art to conform to reviews?
Some authors say yes. They say that bad reviews help them grow. That bad reviews are constructive criticism and should be taken as such.
Other authors say no. That changing your art for one squeaky wheel causes your art to diminish. That it isn’t art if you try to fit it into one reader’s box.
Gertrude Stein said, “Criticism kills art.” I know what she means. Each negative review I read of my work hurts. It actually stops me from writing. I always begin again, but it does stop me for a while.
On the other hand: I think readers have a right to say what they want about a piece of art they experienced. They have a right to love it or hate it and they have a right to say it out loud. I support that right.
Every time I buy a book, a movie, an album, I run the risk of not liking it. And, believe me, I don’t love every book I buy. But I am glad that book has been written. I love that there are so many different stories to choose from. I love that somebody spent hours upon hours creating this book for me to read. (I also love Kindle Unlimited – for ten bucks a month I have a huge smorgasbord of books to choose from!)
As an artist, I haven’t found my happy medium. I try not to read any reviews, but of course I do. Good reviews make me happy. Bad reviews make me cry. And in the meantime, I continue creating. I wake up every day, expose my soul, my brain, my heart… and hope that people will appreciate what I do.
So, dear readers, keep reading. Keep reviewing. Keep experiencing art and keep saying what you think about that experience.
And if you are an artist, remember what Andy Warhol said: “Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”
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