Over the last several months I made the conscious effort to start writing reviews of all the works I read. Coming up with this decision wasn’t without a long thought out plan. Deciding to write reviews cultivated out of hours of thinking about what I expect out of myself as a writer, what I expect of myself as a reader, and what I expect from the folks who intentionally choose to read my works.
As a writer the purpose of composing a piece is formed out of two roads. The first being to formulate your thoughts about a prompt or idea and conveying the message to an intended audience. I often write short pieces to share with my national writing group for growing as an educator, and also practicing certain author’s craft structures I’m working on. They are really my sounding board for improving small areas of my writing. We’ve all been together for almost two years discovering how to grow as writers and formulate ways to teach those ideas to students. The second road and purpose for writing is to get these people who wake me in the middle of the night, and talk to me during important meetings, out of my head and onto the paper. These people, settings, action pieces, and all sorts of other goodies, which roll around in my mind, relax more when I write often. This is where I check what I write in longer works and test out my ideas on my betas. I love the positive feedback, but I also crave the constructive criticism from them. This constant connection loop of write, edit, review, revise, edit more, and so forth is the end game when the betas finally come back with a “Oh My God, I need more. What’s next? Hurry up, I don’t care if it is perfect, I need to know.” These feedback loops help me grow as a writer.
As a reader I enjoy the result of someone’s hard work and sharing in the fruits of their labor. Years ago there were so few outlets to express to an author how much you enjoyed their work. The red tape it took to get a letter through was mind-boggling. If an author traveled for signings it was difficult to advertise where they might be and when. With the internet and social media the entire world of the writer-reader, reader-writer relationship transformed. Ultimately, there are infinite ways to show an author how much you enjoy their work, and maybe some ways to show an author things which would make their craft better. We teach the feedback loop in the classroom but often forget how important they are in the real world.
This brings me to why, as an inspired novelist, I feel a deep connection with writing reviews for the things I’ve read. I want to celebrate with the author’s I’ve read. I want them to gain more readership because this allows them to continue writing, which in turn keeps me reading. I also want them to know that somehow their voices, which were screaming to get out of their head, conveyed a message, which touched me in some way. The purpose of publishing a work is to share. If you don’t know people are enjoying your work then what is the real point of bringing a work out of the saved file bank? I save constructive criticisms for personal notes or instant messaging with an author (which I rarely read something that I feel compelled to write a negative about). No author intends to publish something terrible. Too many hours exist in a day to waste intentional time writing crappy works. My two big criticisms usually fall in mechanical structures or a rushed ending. Besides those issues, there is value in everyone’s work, which needs celebrated and enjoyed by more readership. Therefore as a writer and reader I whole heartedly committed myself to making the effort to write and share, as well as read and review. Everybody should get a chance to read a work and if one little review I write prompts someone I know to pick it up and dive right in, then I’ve done my job to help make the reading-writing, writing-reading continuum travel full circle.