why bother?

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

for what its worth...

Why bother?

I’ve asked myself this a few times, here on Booksie and other writing sites of which I’m a member. Why bother to try my best to answer a reading request with a review? Why bother to read a posting of another person’s work, by his or her request, with a critical eye and make notes here and there as a possible way to improve their writing?

Why bother, indeed?

I bother because I care enough to offer my opinion on a method of improving a work. It isn’t mandatory to do so. I could simply sit on the sidelines, churning out chapter after chapter of my own works and never bother to read anyone else’s offerings. But the author I’m reviewing should keep in mind that this is just my opinion, not a hard and fast rule. I may point out a grammatical error, but if I do, most of the time I will cite the rule. People advance their knowledge by learning rules, not by ignoring them.

I’ve been writing formally since 1957. Starting when I was 15 years old, slaving away on an old Underwood writing articles for my high school class newspaper in Germany. I wasn’t very good, but I improved, guided by an extremely capable taskmaster of an Editor who also taught English. I listened to critiques, guidance, and most of all peer reviews. If my friends couldn’t figure out what I was writing about, how could I expect anyone else to? I’ve been writing ever since.

Throughout the next fifty-nine years, I find that I can improve by listening to reviewers and their comments. In reality, the less-than-enthusiastic reviews are the ones I thrive on because they may actually point out a plot hole, a badly constructed sentence, an incorrect fact that I should have checked further or, worse yet, a hazy passage that leads the reader astray.

 

My Booksie career started in January 2012, which wasn’t terribly long ago. My first offerings were dreadful and garnered many a so-so or worse review. Then I began to look at what was being said to me. My grammar improved along with my storylines, due to these bits of constructive criticism. I began to thrive on them, looking forward to reviews from fellow Booksians.

Of course, there were bad reviews -- some simply stating, “your work stinks” or worse. I was never given any reason for such a dreadful offering, just that “it stinks”. This is not a terribly enlightening statement. Of course I felt badly about these, and looked hard at what I’d written, trying to find ways to improve it. Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn’t, yet I never gave up. If you think my writing stinks, by all means says so! However, please do me the courtesy of including a reason you think it stinks. That way, I don’t have to hunt around and possibly ruin one area while fixing another.

So, this is why I bother to give reviews. Should I stop? I don’t think I will; because there might be just one budding writer out there who will go on to create a masterpiece. And, when it is published, I can read it again and say to myself, “I remember pointing that out”, or “the plot did change here where I thought it might go smoother”.

It gives me the feeling that I’ve accomplished something. That’s what makes the writing game exciting. So, if I give what you may think is a bad review, take a good look at what I’ve written’ change it, don’t change it, that’s not my decision – it’s yours.

~Tom Oldman, June 26, 2016.

 


Submitted: July 27, 2016

© Copyright 2022 B Douglas Slack. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:

Comments

Oleg Roschin

Well said! Tom, you are one of the kindest and most supportive people on Booksie. You dedicate so much time and effort to helping others improve; you make astute general statements as well as meticulous iComment stylistic and grammatical corrections. I'm sure that those who are truly serious about writing are very grateful to you for your help. I wish there were more people like you!

Wed, July 27th, 2016 2:30am

Author
Reply

Thanks, Oleg. I try my darndest to be kind, but sometimes my best isn't good enough.

~Tom

Tue, July 26th, 2016 7:50pm

Jack Motley

There'll always be writers who think their writing doesn't stink, and that the reviewer is in the wrong. I forget if there's a term for it or not: narcissism, perhaps? But, if they're not listening, screw 'em. You did your best, like you always do, Tom. Don't lose heart on these stubborn folks. You do good work here on Booksie.

Wed, July 27th, 2016 2:43am

Author
Reply

Thank you, Jack. I hope my writing is "unstinky", but you can't please everyone, either reviewing or writing.

~Tom

Tue, July 26th, 2016 7:53pm

hullabaloo22

Great essay, Tom. So many people don't seem to comment at all. I always find reviews or comments to be helpful and will try to make comments as often as I can. I guess they aren't really reviews as such as I don't know all the rules myself, but I will say what I think.
I doubt there are many writers on Booksie who would not appreciate your constructive criticism.

Wed, July 27th, 2016 10:55am

Author
Reply

Good morning, Hullabaloo. Any comment made concerning a posting has the potential to be helpful. If a rule (grammatical or otherwise) is mentioned, so much the better.
Unfortunately, I gave such a review to a person who responded with abuse, then sent a PM -- immediately blocking me so I couldn't respond. To paraphrase a suspected Lincoln quote: "You can review some of the authors all the time, or all the authors some of the time, but you can't review all the authors all the time". One learns from experience.

~Tom

Wed, July 27th, 2016 6:11am

Mr Watson

I always look forward to reading your comments Tom. I for one have no complaints on how review my pieces. I am truly grateful that you take time out and read all of our works, even though you don't post on here much yourself. Thank you.

Thu, July 28th, 2016 5:42pm

Author
Reply

I used to post a lot, but with this wrist bothering me, I can't write for long before it cramps up on me. I have a new novel I'm working on now, so maybe I'll begin posting it once I build up a backlog of chapters. I don't like to start unless I have 10 or 15 of them in the can.

I'm teaching myself how to use the mouse left-handed and that may help.

~Tom

Thu, July 28th, 2016 1:44pm

Chris Cross

Keep on reviewing our works, Tom -I mean keep reviewing our works, Tom. Your honesty is a guarantee of quality, and a good criticism from you is all the more valuable.

Fri, August 26th, 2016 3:53pm

Author
Reply

Thanks, Chris. I appreciate your reply. I try my best to give a good review. Since joining this and other writing sites, I've become much more appreciative of other genres I wouldn't have considered before. In fact, I'm an avid reader of a couple of them I would have passed completely by in a bookstore. There are a wonderful group of writers here on Booksie.

~Tom

Fri, August 26th, 2016 9:06am

S.B.Scoular

I can thank you enough for the help that you have given me on my chapters. I am very much a novice when it comes to writing. Wasnt particularly interested in school. So i think from other writers and reviewer's on here i am going to learn a lot and hopefully iprove with every chapter I post. I need to make time to read and review others work aswell as that will be a big tool in helping me get better

Thank you again.

-Simone

Fri, October 14th, 2016 11:16pm

Author
Reply

It was my pleasure, Simone. I hope to do some more reviewing of your work soon.

~Tom

Fri, October 14th, 2016 5:42pm

glindagail77

How considerate and thoughtful. The sacrifices you make in others will oftentimes come back to you in manifold ways. Most of the time you may never find out directly how your seed grew and flourished. Still other times, you have the pleasure of seeing it spring up and streak the sky like a shooting star. You live your life investing in others, and you are bound to be satisfied with your own life. I believe this with all that I am. You are a shining example of how to treat others, just like how you'd want to be treated. I strive to emulate these qualities, daily. Thank you for your model of compassionate living in all that you do, fellow Booksie-mate.

Fri, May 22nd, 2020 1:18am

Author
Reply

Thanks for you very kind words, Glindagail. I know it may sound trite, but I've seen the face of war (five tours in Vietnam) and it makes one cynical. It took me a while to come down from that, but then the pendulum swung to the other side. My wife is always telling me I'm easy to get along with, but I wasn't always that way. I've learned a thing to two in my 78 years, and I see no reason why I can't share some of my knowledge before I go away. Helping other writers is one of joys of life. I'm proud of my two novels on Amazon, but even prouder of those who've gone on from here and published their own books that, in my small way, may have helped them along.

Bill

Thu, May 21st, 2020 6:34pm

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