Jacqueline Howett and The Perilous Seas of Reviewetry

I resist the urge to link you to this song based on the bad pun* of the title. Don’t click it. It will only distract you from my blog.

Yesterday, a little storm erupted on Twitter regarding a lady named Jacqueline Howett. Howett is an author, an indie author no less – blazing a trail in the self-publishing sphere. While the idiom states that there is no such thing as bad publicity, I shall leave you free to come to your own decision. The storm erupted from this blog, Big Al’s Books and Pals, which featured a review of her (e)book. It’s most fun/disturbing if you read the blog (and its subsequent comments) yourself – an opportunity I am denied while writing this since the profanity in the comments have triggered the filter at my school.

Essentially, Howett was unhappy with the two star review she recieved, and called the critic out on his inadequate skills, blamed him for reviewing the “wrong copy” and subsequently accused him of posting anonymously on his own blog to attack her. Her responses soon degenerated into a string of Fuck-Offs at any and all, while all around attempted to defuse the situation. Now, I don’t know the situation particularly well – especially since I wasn’t following it fully. Indeed, the issue has been much better discussed alreday. No need to tread the same ground.

While I can understand that Howett would be hurt by a negative review (and since I’ve yet to publish myself, I’ve yet to feel this keen blade myself), I do not attempt to understand her knee-jerk responses. Then again, it is not my place to try. Indeed, the response has been likened to an immature self-aggrandising belief in the quality of work.

My real misunderstanding comes from a personal viewpoint** as that of an ‘artist’ in that I write words and perform magic. Almost always, I find it impossible to create something that is as good as my mind planned it to be. I imagine that this is the case with a good number of people. Indeed, rather than thinking my creation is perfect, I find myself thinking that really it is terrible, covered with a thin veil of adjectives, and that at some point somebody will discover this.

I believe the term (which spans across several fields of work, and that I first encountered in relation to my monied career of teaching) is Imposter Syndrome – that soon somebody will notice that you are not as good as you pretend to be.

Really though, this veneered shell is the confidence that breeds success.***

And that is why it can so easily be broken.

* Indeed, bad writing entirely.

** As is almost exclusively the case on this blog.

*** God, I should write philosophical self-help manuals.

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Jacqueline Howett and The Perilous Seas of Reviewetry

2 thoughts on “Jacqueline Howett and The Perilous Seas of Reviewetry

  1. Hi, and thanks for linking to my site. I wrote another blog post about this on my Writing Calendar blog

    http://quillers-writingcalendar.blogspot.com/2011/02/hope-for-no-hopers.html

    It gives a possible reason why new writers think they’re better than they are. It takes time to learn to be self-critical, I think, and perhaps some self-awareness. Some people never learn, sadly. I hope Jacqueline Howett does learn from this. It’s a painful lesson, but hopefully a valuable one in the long term.

    1. archaism says:

      Indeed, it’s not going to be an easy thing to learn from, but I hope she too does learn from the whole thing.

      I agree that the rosy-tinted spectacles can come from the writing experience, and I’ll admit that it wasn’t a reason I had thought of before. It’s probably because I’ve just been slogging through the craft of grafting my short story into a more refined beast!

      Perhaps my own self awareness has come from the fact that I’ve “written” a number of magic effects, and as performance pieces I’ve had to be very self critical from an early point. Perhaps that has focused too much afterwards.

      Oh, and no worries about the link!

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