Once upon a time, I was at a high school theater festival. In between shows, I got to chatting with someone from another school. We get to talking about some of what we'd seen that morning, and he asked about a certain show. I said what I thought: "I thought it started out strong, and I liked the premise, though I thought it got a little ridiculous towards the end. A bit over the top." The guy nodded thoughtfully and said, "I'll tell my director."
Face, meet Palm. You two can be friends.
Yep, I was talking to a cast member. (In my defense, people look different from more than 30 feet away. I just didn't recognize him.) (By the by, dude, if you're reading this, I really do apologize for that.)
While I didn't say the meanest things I'd ever said about a show, I know I didn't couch them the way I might have if I'd known I spoke to someone who worked on the production. After all, you put your heart and soul (or at least a hecca ton of sweat and tears -- and possibly a little blood) into a show, if someone criticizes it, it's gonna hurt.
What's this got to do with writing? I've been seeing a lot of talk on the blogosphere lately about reviews and commenting on books on blogs.
Talking about books on blogs is like being me in that auditorium. As far as you know, you are always talking to that guy from the show. Agents, editors, authors, friends of any of the above could be reading your blog. And, I know, people always say that you can't talk what people say about your work to heart -- and I've definitely a proponent of not taking things to heart -- but that's no reason not to be polite at the least.
As Ratatouille says "We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so."
So, while it might be fun to go making fun of people, and while, in the privacy of my own head/home/secret underground cave, I might rage against the heinousness of whatever book I just read, I try to keep that stuff off the blog.
Because I learned that lesson in high school: Everything you're looking at it something someone spent a lot of time and effort on, and yes, sometimes they are standing there, asking what you think of it.
How do you feel about publishing reviews on the internet? Do you put them on your sites? Good and bad alike?
How do you feel when you read a negative review on a blog, even of work that is not personally connected to you?