Sometimes, It’s Good to Be Wrong, or “Espresso Fiction,” revisited

Yes, really.

Sometimes, finding out that you are wrong for some reason or another, or even just learning that there is a different perspective than the one you were using, can be really liberating.

Since I posted my book review about “Espresso Fiction,” I’ve had the pleasure of a very interesting correspondence with its editor. I haven’t suddenly awoken to discover that I love the book, but the editor commented that my review sounded more like “negativity for the sake of negativity” (or something close to that – I admit, I could look at the message again, but it’s still rather personally embarrassing, so I’d really rather not) than a salient review.

And, he (or she) is right.

I had not intended this. Saying something unpleasant just to be nasty or small is actually something I try pretty hard to avoid doing – so you can imagine just how sharp the intake of my breath was when I read it.

But when I look at what I wrote – I agree.

It was negative (sure, I didn’t like it). It was also not specific and spoke in very general, but very vivid derogatory terms.

Now, if you’re gonna go around saying that you can’t stand something, you really need to be able to back that up with facts. And I didn’t.

So, this mea culpa is for the *manner* in which I expressed my view.

I am grateful — yes, *grateful* that this stranger took the time to teach me. I appreciate and respect the gift of this experience. Yeah, I’m also embarrassed (I said that, right?) — but we learn from and remember the things that we screw up. I am so glad that FictionBrigade took the time, and with grace and poise, showed me how I could improve.


In more specific terms, this is what I didn’t like about the anthology:

I thought that the stories lacked flow in rhythm and pacing. Sentences were often stilted, and inconsistent in verb tense and subject. Actions were asked to carry more symbolic or metaphoric weight than they could handle. The stories seemed to be trying so very very hard to be unusual, new, or clever, that they were embarrassingly self-aware, kind of like a teenager at Prom.

Okay, I might be able to extrapolate, but why don’t we leave this at, well, at least not worse than it was?


Comments? Similar experiences? Please, share below.


About Shannon Blue Christensen

Storyteller. Author. Editor. Literary Critic. Director. Teacher. Knitter. nascent Musician. Student. Operations and Quality. Marketing. Historian. Lear's Fool. View all posts by Shannon Blue Christensen

7 responses to “Sometimes, It’s Good to Be Wrong, or “Espresso Fiction,” revisited

  • Ignorethebucklesonmyjacket

    I’ll let you know after the first time I am wrong. 😉

    This was very “big” of you.

  • Raunak

    I always find it hard to explain why or why I do not like a particular thing…especially when it comes to art. At painting exhibitions I come across the question of what I think about the works, and my answer is either “I love it because it makes me happy/angry/…” or “It evokes no response in me”.

    My approach to reviewing a work is reflecting on the wholeness of the piece and not dissecting it into its individual traits. This could be because I am not technically qualified. I would like to believe that since I enjoy the wholeness of a creation I do not bother to educate myself about the technical nitty-gritties. Sometimes over-analysis kills the joy of viewing a work of art.

  • writerwendyreid

    Shannon, I love that you not only realized your error (if indeed it was even an error), but you were open enough to talk about it on your blog for the world (or at least your followers) to see. When I published my first novel, a very nasty woman wrote a scathing review on Amazon. I know that my novels are not for everyone (and I let people know that in the book description) but she not only insulted my story, but she personally insulted me. Being my first book and my first review, I was devastated and had serious doubts about any abilities I thought that I might have had. Since then, I won’t post a review unless it’s positive. I’m not saying that constructive criticism isn’t a good thing, I’m just very aware now of how hurtful a bad review can be, especially if it’s not done with good intentions.

    • Shannon Blue Christensen

      You’ll never believe what happened to me with this review –
      Someone on amazon reviewed me – personally – saying that clearly I had nothing and did nothing with my life if I had so much time to spend on one stupid review.

      I’m now laughing and crying at the same time. 🙂

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