Something thrilling and terrifying happened to me this weekend. No, I’m not talking about watching my beloved 49ers lose the Super Bowl.
I’m referring to something that has been my worst fear since I began reviewing books…and what has kept me from discussing books that I didn’t exactly fall in love with. I had been witness to some rather nasty author/blogger comment wars about reviews over the past few years. Sometimes the arguments would take place in multiple places – on the reviewer’s blog and on Goodreads or Amazon. Goodreads seems to have more than its fair share of these arguments for some reason.
Bloggers engage in very subjective conversations about pretty much anything under the sun. It can be a scary thing to put your opinion out there when you know that you’ve been honest with an eye towards being fair in what you’ve written. Opinions can incite passionate discussion. Passions can flare, igniting blazes that get out of control quickly. This is the internet after all – home of the flame war and the trolls that love them. I have been virtually paralyzed for years by the fear of an author becoming so offended by something that I wrote that I would get to experience a flame war of my very own. This is something I wanted to avoid at all costs.
So when I decided to revise my review of Heads in Beds…it would be an understatement to say that I was terrified. I must have reconsidered if I should even revise that review a dozen times in the weeks between my original posting and the revision that finally made it onto the blog last week. I struggled mightily to even write it. It scared me to no end that on the very slim chance that Mr. Tomsky would see my review, he would be offended and leave a nasty comment on my blog.
I know it’s ridiculous, because who the hell would care what I think? I’m one blogger with an extremely modest following in comparison to more well-established blogs out there. I tried to convince myself that he wouldn’t even see the review. Even if he did, I knew that it was ridiculous for me to think that he would have the time to put forth the effort to harass me. As much as I knew it was dumb for me to be afraid, I knew that it was not completely impossible that he would see my review, be offended and let me know that he was offended.
Yesterday when I returned home from a friend’s Super Bowl party, already heartbroken from the loss, I decided to check and see if I had comments on my blog that needed approval.
I had one. From Jacob Tomsky.
I’m not going to sugar coat this – I was terrified of reading his comment. I was sure that he was going to rip me to shreds, even though I felt that I had been fair in my review. So I clicked and read it.
To my extreme relief, he left a fair and measured response to my review. It was clear to me that although he loves and stands by his book (which of course he should, it’s his work), he didn’t feel the need to rip me to shreds.
I don’t think this suddenly makes me the best reviewer ever; far from that. Hell, I’m always surprised when an author takes the time to read anything I have to say. I’m not the New York Times for heaven’s sakes. I will say though, I so appreciated that he had a “live and let live” attitude about it. It helped me get past that hurdle that had been standing in my way for so long.