My next book, Working Stiffs, is at a tricky stage of its lifecycle. It’s out for reviews. This is where I get nervous. Publication isn’t far away and reviews are due. I want to read all the good things and pretend that the negatives don’t exist. At the end of the day, I want people to like what I’ve done and I’m disappointed if they don’t. It has a lot to do with pride. Hand on heart, I think I did a good job with the book. My editor did a great job of getting the best out of me. When he saw a weakness in the manuscript, he gave me great observations that spurred me on to do better. So together, we created a book that people will enjoy and hopefully, a few will love.
But books aren’t like math or quantum physics. There isn’t a right answer. Stories are valued subjectively. One man’s blockbuster is another man’s turkey. So I can say that I’m genuinely scared as I await judgment from reviewers. I know a review is only one person’s opinion, but I want that opinion to be good. I want to be liked for what I do. It is important to me. I liked writing the book and I hope the reviewers will enjoy reading it. It’s a fair trade for everyone.
You’d think I’d be over this. Working Stiffs represents my third book. Generally, reviewer and reader feedback to my work has been good. My first book, Accidents Waiting To Happen, got some great reviews, much better than I could have hoped for. My short stories have been singled out for special praise when they’ve appeared in various anthologies. So I should be calmer about these things—right? Not really. It gets tougher with every story and book. I have to outdo myself. What was good enough last time is the bare minimum the next time out. I raise the bar for myself and subsequently put pressure on myself.
Reviews have made me a more considerate reviewer. It’s easy to trash someone’s work and think nothing of it. Writing isn’t an easy business. Regardless of what people think about the crappiest of books, I don’t believe any writer goes out of their way to write a bad book. It is bloody hard to come up with a story. Some might get labeled a hack, but hack sums up writing pretty well. Crafting a story sometimes feels like fighting a way through a jungle with a blunt spoon. It requires determination and effort. So reviewers, be kind. We’ve worked hard for that thumbs down review.
All that gibberish said, I’m fairly confident people will like the new book—but don’t quote me on that. I don’t want to come over as cocky or anything.