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

Publication and Procrastination

Already today I’ve surprised myself in that I’ve completed a number of decidedly ‘mature’* activities: paid my council tax, tidied** my parents’ house and filled in pen-pushing activity for the soon to be defunct General Teaching Council (England).

Perusal of earlier entries of this blog should suggest just why this is such a surprise to me. My motto seemed to used to be, “I’ll do it later.” Now it appears to be more like, “Well, I might as well do it now.” Aside from the concerns that I am yet becoming more like my father, in itself this is a surprising revelation.

It is not without its benefits though. I am now a full time teacher, and as the probationary activity is all measured ‘on the job’, this is the first Christmas break where I haven’t had to write an essay. Now that I don’t have to do anything, I am aware that it’s difficult to do anything that I could.

I plan to do a number of things with this holiday. The first is to create a working setlist for my forthcoming summer World Tour of London (Open Mic Nights); the second is to write a horror story, since I came up with a brilliantly bizarre title.

The title is ‘The Trees (That Bled Blood)’, which immediately calls forth ideas of a bad B movie. Originally, I had imagined that I would write such a piece: a parody of horror tropes in much the same manner as House of the Dead: Overkill. However, the more its plot distills in my head, the darker it becomes, the more it echoes classic horror cinema of Romero and King.

So I have set myself a task. This tale will be dark, but it’ll be accessible in a manner that much of my writing is not. So much so, that it will be published. At the moment, I’m not sure exactly how that will happen, but I know that I intend for it to occur.

Therefore, my story needs be longer than they usually are, and probably needs more defined characters. I am aiming at five thousand words for the tale.

Since most of my fiction tends towards flash, this will require more self discipline than I’m used to. Nevertheless, my girlfriend is excited by my goals and plans to keep driving me to make sure I don’t just procrastinate.

And if today is anything to go by, I might just manage it.

* As in, emotionally mature, not agéd.

** Struggling with the correct conjugation of what is a surprisingly tricky verb. Talk about not being tidy in itself.

Publication and Procrastination