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When you attract the trolls

February 1, 2013

The Internet is full of us.

As a published author–if you count a blog as being published–my work gets reviewed from time to time. My Christmas post, which I considered decent–got blasted by a reader as lacking respect because I suggested Mary might look like the town whore if Joseph dumped her for getting pregnant out of wedlock.

I’d like to tell you it didn’t bother me, but if I care enough to mention it, maybe it did. (The fact that our pastor gave a sermon that covered a lot of the same ground would be mere coincidence. [Though I wrote mine before I heard his Christmas Day message. Seriously, I did.])

One of the things I wonder about is the lack of hate e-mail or snarky comments. Am I being too safe in what I write? And the fact that December’s numbers were down from November’s, which were down from October’s, had me asking people if my quality had fallen off the cliff–even though the same pattern happens every year.

And a Facebook friend named Mysti Parker–someone I’ve actually talked to online a little, instead of just existing in the same corner of cyberspace–posted that she’d just gotten her first troll review on Amazon. (“Little more than a nickle-nasty. Don’t waste your time or money, unless you are as morally uncharted as the characters.”) She didn’t seem too upset about it. Yet, I have to wonder.

As you read this, I should be in my first month with a writing partner. I hope she tells me something absolutely, completely doesn’t work for her. It’s that kind of feedback that makes a writer better. It hurts, the way surgery hurts, with the same intent. Improvement.

The tiny piece of snark above doesn’t help. It’s not intended to. It’s the equivalent of someone walking up to you and punching you in the solar plexus, simple because you have one.

Go ahead, troll. Make my day.

I haven’t been punched in the solar plexus yet. Part of me wants to be, just to cross that bridge of writerly experience. How about you? Have you been trolled, punched in the figurative solar plexus, or smacked around, just because someone could?

Oh crap. Never mind.

How did you react? Did you see it as a necessary step? Or did it set you to wondering?

  1. February 1, 2013 6:55 am

    Hey Chris,

    I did receive such a feedback on a WIP, from my publisher no less. When he wrote that he couldn’t read any further than page five, it hurt worse than being punched, as you say, in the solar plexis.

    But after the pain subsided, and I sat back a really considered what he had to say about the parts he did read, I agreed.

    Us,as writers, need to not only take in the glowing, warm-fuzzy reviews, but the sometimes harsh, cold-prickly as well; we’ll be better writers because of it.

  2. February 1, 2013 7:09 am

    Sometimes, feedback can be just snarky and unhelpful, and others, if they come from people who actually have a clue and are not trying to hurt the author (just because they can) can be immensely useful. A beta reader (who’s also an author) once told me that the last third of my manuscript sucked. I did sulk for a day, and then realized she was right. So, I ripped out 40K words and did over. The manuscript is SO much better for it.

  3. February 1, 2013 9:08 am

    I was actually mocked in my comments on an article I wrote once. I critically reviewed the two sequels to The Matrix and this pulled in a ranting comment by an avid fan of The Matrix. I don’t delete such comments because they have merit. But, I do respond with rational and professional feedback. Then I thank them for taking the time to comment. 🙂

    It’s all about feedback.

    However, I’ve not yet encountered a troll, one who has nothing better to do than to look for something to babble on about, knowing nothing of the topic about which they rant. They are usually quite shallow and illiterate.

  4. L. Dean Murphy permalink
    February 1, 2013 9:12 am

    Solar plexus punch, no. Decapitation? Yes. My review style is to quote extensively from a novel, let the author’s words convey what happens. For a book I didn’t like I overused quotes in a jumble that shouldn’t have been published. A review reader commented, “I wanted a review, not Cliff Notes.”
    Painful, but I no longer review books I don’t like, and I sparingly use book quotes. So, yeah, what was perceived as negative comments helped rein in my “make my day” ego.

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