May 4

Next update May 18

A little different kind of update today. Bear with me as I work through some issues…

First, the Spurs are out of the NBA playoffs in the first round. You might not care, but I had high hopes this year. Then Memphis put an old-fashioned smack-down on the boys in silver and black. Not much you can say when you’re outplayed, except congrats to the Grizz. But don’t worry – I’ve planned a little trip to Vegas to help me get over my funk.

While I’m there, I’ll pick a new team and jump on their bandwagon… maybe Dallas. They’re close enough to Austin that I can go to a game or two. If anyone knows Mark Cuban, give him a buzz and see if he’ll give the okay for me to come on board. (And if you can swing me a couple free tickets, even better!) 

Okay, now that I’ve put that unpleasantness behind me, let’s get back to Revan. More specifically, the novel about Revan… called Revan. Everybody following so far? Good.

Based on the e-mails after my last update, I think I gave the impression that people are angry about this book. That wasn’t quite my intent, though I do appreciate all the people who sent me notes of support telling me how excited they are for the book.

The truth is, the vast majority of fans were excited by this announcment. The haters are a small minority, and I understand that. But I think most authors share a common flaw: we’re very self-critical, so we tend to focus on criticism rather than praise. We shouldn’t do it, but it’s the way we’re made.

Actually, I think it’s a valuable skill in moderation – you need to pay attention to bad things people say when you first become a writer, because every writer starts out writing crap. If you ignore the critics, you’ll never get better.  But you can go too far the other way… especially if you look at internet forums and message boards. And I do.

Most authors read forums and on-line reviews, though they don’t all admit it. We probably shouldn’t. After all, everybody knows the internet formula: anonymity+audience=asshole. So you have to expect people to be jerks on a message board. (Not everyone, of course. But they jerks are out there, and you can’t avoid them.)

It’s easy to claim you dismiss what they say and move on, but it digs into the back of your mind and lurks there, feeding off the self-doubt and self-criticism that was so essential in your early years as a writer. It’s not a big thing, but it’s there. 

The frustrating thing is that most of the time their arguments aren’t even valid, logical or reasonable. You’ll read a post that says something like, “I hate Drew’s stuff because he’s a hack. A six-year old could write better!” There are no actual examples of why they don’t like your stuff or how it reeks of six-year oldness; no useful analysis of your prose that you could somehow use to improve your writing. Just a broad opinion with no real backing saying you suck.

In response, you want to reply – “Really? So the hundreds of thousands of people who enjoy my writing style are wrong? I guess they must all be idiots, then, right? Or maybe – just maybe - the problem’s on your end, you pathetic internet troll!”

Of course, you can never post this. (Well, you can… but that usually doesn’t end well.) And, to be fair, individuals are entitled to their opinion (and to express those opinions, even if they do it without tact or class).

Every author has fans and detractors, and sometimes a particular writing style just doesn’t work for a particular reader. I know that – it’s just hard to accept on an emotional level. As a writer, you want everyone to love your stuff. And that’s just not going to happen.

Fortunately for me, I get many, many e-mails from fans telling me they appreciate my work. (Thanks for that.) And most of the time I don’t have to post on a message board defending my stuff because someone’s already beat me to it. (Thanks for that, too.)

I’d say the positive feedback outweighs the negative by about 10 to 1, and in the long run that keeps me coming back. (Well, that plus the $$$.) Let me fill you in on a secret: when I’m working on a novel I sometimes go to my e-mails or a forum and read the nice things people say to get me fired up to churn out another chapter. It’s like a shot of mental adrenaline right into the ego. But sometimes that’s not enough.

Sometimes you have to give in to the pettiness. For example, you might whip out a sarcastic fake Q&A to try and defuse the haters before they get started. It won’t actually change any opinions, but it feels good. Like punching a wall, or kicking a puppy. (Relax – it was an UGLY puppy.) 

Basically, it’s a form of therapy. Just like the opening paragraph about the Spurs. So now that I’ve come full circle, I guess all I can say is thanks for listening.

Next week I address more fan questions and concerns about the novel, but without the snarky edge or all the sentimental crap. (Well, maybe a little snarkiness will sneak in. I gotta be me.)

And I will eventually update my FAQ to reflect the Revan announcement, so stop e-mailing me about it! (Though Vegas is calling, so it won’t happen this weekend.)


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