Comments:

It's okay to have most of the reactions she described unfavorably. You just need to have them privately and then get the hell over them.

Ah, but why? That is the question that bugs me.

A reviewer can say whatever s/he wants, that's fine with me. But then the author doesn't get to respond in any way s/he chooses? Regardless of whether the reviewer and any readers of the response think it's whiny?

That's no fair, I say.

Sure, it may make the author look better to others if s/he doesn't spew invective or whine like a child, but it's their prerogative. I'm not at all in favor of the 'suck it up' proscription, because the reviewer isn't required to do the same.

If the going rate is, "I get to say it whether or not you care to hear it," then it should go both ways.

Posted by kalena at August 5, 2003 10:58 PM

*shrugs* If you wish to insist on your right to behave in a childish and stupid manner, far be it from me to get in your way.

Posted by Sarah T. at August 5, 2003 11:47 PM

Thank you! *beams* I do, actually -- my right, and yours, and everybody else's. I didn't realize how strongly I felt about this . . . Perhaps I really should join the ACLU.

Posted by kalena at August 6, 2003 12:09 PM


See, I don't see a double standard here. At all. Authors are the people who have to deal with criticism. So when people like Destina give advice on how to react to criticism-- who should they aim it at except writers?

Reviewers don't get to say "whatever they want" while writers are forbidden to respond. In both cases, they are free to say whatever they want-- the only caveat is, people are going to forming an opinion of them, based on what they say.

When reviewers behave childishly (publishing "reviews" on anonymous badfic sites, for instance) nobody gives them a free pass on that. They're completely free to say whatever they want-- and risk looking like a bunch of cowardly jerks. Just as a writer is completely free to say whatever she wants-- and risk looking like an oversensitive whiner.

Show me the last time a fiction reviewer threw a public hissyfit and threatened to stop contributing to fandom because someone criticised her discussion of a story, and I'll start thinking maybe we should be telling critics to "suck it up." But frankly, *sadly*, this is mainly a problem with authors.

I think it's fun to talk about fiction. I think it's absolutely stupid that people want me to censor myself and watch what I say, just in case some shrinking violet can't deal with an honest discussion of something *she put out in public*, and decides to take her toys and go home. But that's the state we're at right now. So yeah, I gotta say, I'm firmly in the "suck it up, writers" camp. Suck. It. Up.

Posted by Livia at August 7, 2003 04:05 AM

"Show me the last time a fiction reviewer threw a public hissyfit and threatened to stop contributing to fandom because someone criticised her discussion of a story, and I'll start thinking maybe we should be telling critics to "suck it up." But frankly, *sadly*, this is mainly a problem with authors.

I think it's fun to talk about fiction. I think it's absolutely stupid that people want me to censor myself and watch what I say, just in case some shrinking violet can't deal with an honest discussion of something *she put out in public*,"

You don't want to censor yourself, and I don't think you should. But in return, why ask the writer to censor herself? Because you want or expect or prefer that the writer to respond in a 'mature' fashion? I tend to see a reviewer's definition of 'mature behavior' as dangerously close to 'behavior that is acceptable to the reviewer.'

"Reviewers don't get to say "whatever they want" while writers are forbidden to respond."

This comment ("You just need to have them privately and then get the hell over them.") sounded very much like, at the least, an injunction that they respond only in certain ways acceptable to Sarah T.

Let's just say I wouldn't care to have someone decide FOR me what I can or cannot say according to her own definitions of 'stupid' and 'childish.'

Posted by kalena at August 8, 2003 02:08 PM


This is the spell-check debate all over again. I say "You really have to spell-check," and someone responds, "I *have* to? Who said I have to? Who died and made you god?" and I respond, "Look, I'm not saying you HAVE TO or I personally will punish you-- I'm saying you have to *OR* you'll look stupid." And it seems obvious to me what most people would choose.

//You don't want to censor yourself, and I don't think you should. But in return, why ask the writer to censor herself? Because you want or expect or prefer that the writer to respond in a 'mature' fashion?//

Um, pretty much-- yes. If I start a conversation in a mature fashion, I *do* expect to get a mature response. When I send Sarah a beta, I expect her to argue with me on a lot of points, but I don't expect her to whine and hate me forever and call me names about it. Come *on*. Of course I expect a mature response.

And yeah, if I'm trying to have an intelligent conversation, I do prefer a mature, as opposed to a childish response. I don't enjoy suffering through tantrums whether they're thrown by three-year-olds or thirty-year-olds, and I don't know anyone who does.

//I tend to see a reviewer's definition of 'mature behavior' as dangerously close to 'behavior that is acceptable to the reviewer.'//

No, my definition of "mature behavior" is pretty much "mature behavior."

This would include: not whining about how mean it is to point out blatant canonical errors in a publically posted story. Not making insinuations about the reviewer's intelligence because she couldn't appreciate the author's Work of Genius. Not calling someone a heterophobe because she disliked a het story, or a homophobe because she thinks a certain slash pairing was unsupported within the story. Not rallying all your friends around to call the reviewer a moron because she dared to say your story wasn't to her taste. *Mature behavior*.

I don't mind being told that maybe I missed something in the story, or that I'm not approaching it from the right perspective, or that maybe it worked for everyone else, just not me. I don't mind discussing a story with people whose views differ from mine-- I *love* discussing stories, that's why I'm pro-criticism. I *do* mind being attacked and/or guilt-tripped by authors who are offended, frightened or angered by the mere *existence* of criticism.

Destina's original point was "don't freak out." Sarah modified that to "everyone freaks out, but it's preferable to throw a hissyfit *in private*." You seem to be taking that as an order, but it's still your choice. Even if someone did say "Hey, I'm laying down the law, no more hissyfits," there's no way they could MAKE you act like a grown-up. It's entirely your choice, as it always has been. Embarrass yourself in public and lose my respect, or, you know, don't.

Posted by Livia at August 8, 2003 03:06 PM

//You don't want to censor yourself, and I don't think you should. But in return, why ask the writer to censor herself? Because you want or expect or prefer that the writer to respond in a 'mature' fashion?//

Let me clarify this a little. I do censor myself, as a critic. Note the lack of my regular LJ feature, "Dumbest Story On The SSA This Week."

Let's just say that I expect writers to respond to criticism with *at least* the same level of politeness and maturity that the reviewer offered to them, when they criticised the story.

If someone tells me, "You suck for writing stories about Chloe because she's a bitch!" I would feel no compunction about responding "Hi, you're stupid, shut up!" If someone takes the time to write out a thoughtful critique about why my Chloe story really wasn't very good, it may in fact hurt MORE than the stupid flame. But I'd look much less mature were I to respond to that with "You suck! Go away!"

So yeah, I do expect both critics and writers to censor themselves, if by "censor" you mean the type of everyday behavior control that we all do, because we're not two years old and we just *don't* throw tantrums because we didn't get a pony or an ice cream cone or a world free of criticism.

Posted by Livia at August 8, 2003 03:13 PM

big thank

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