I've had this song in my mind on and off for about a month:
It reminds me that simple things are often overlooked, but can be very significant. A smile, a sincere thank you, feedback, a listening ear.
For a writer, receiving a detailed review is the best present. I've been giving and receiving a lot of reviews recently on writing.com where I posted several chapters of my novels in progress. The joy of giving is almost as great as the joy of receiving, if not more. Best of all, it doesn't cost anything. Sometimes a single review, received on a particular day, can turn things around in a dramatic way.
A review is a double-sided sword. It can give a writer that little push needed to keep writing or it can destroy a writer's confidence. I posted the first two chapters of my YA novel for people to review and received several reviews, some of them making me feel like tearing my chapters apart and starting all over. The reviews came from experienced writers that seemed to know so much more than I did. I started doubting not only about my writing skills, but also about my reviewing skills. What do I know about writing? Are my reviews useful to anyone? How can I comment on stories written by writers who know so much more than I do? I never had a class on creative writing. I learned on my own, with books and writing exercises. How can I compare with English literature college graduates?
That's when I decided to post the same chapters in a review forum on the same site, Young Adult Novel Workshop. My very first reviewer on this forum changed everything. The review was constructive yet encouraging. I noticed it was filled with grammar errors and I smiled. I don't have to be perfect. Everyone has specific skills to offer. Some are good about developing believable characters, others are better at describing settings in a vivid way. I'm good at grammar, but I have a lot to learn about showing my characters' emotions. This one review was all I needed for me to regain confidence in my writing skills.
I returned the favor and sent him a review, including some comments from my seven-year-old daughter, which is the target age for that particular story. Little did my daughter know she would make someone so happy by highlighting in pink the words she wasn't familiar with and making a few comments about the story. Simple things, yet so powerful. The next day, the writer commented about her review in his blog entry: Target Audience - Kurt Chambers.
Since then, I gave and received countless reviews. I revised my first two chapters and added some more. Every time I send a review, I wonder what kind of impact it will have. Maybe the writer just ignores it, or maybe I made someone's day by giving a much needed encouraging review. Who knows?
As for me, I get so excited every time I get a review. It's like receiving a gift when it's not even my birthday. :)
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