Why Blogging is dangerous

So I come home from two weeks of traveling to discover that I’ve offended a number of people with my last blogpost, about what I thought was an innocuous topic, and it was this:

Artists view art differently than consumers do. 

It wasn’t a blog that anyone could possibly get upset about, I thought.  Just a little quickie topic before I rushed off for the airport.  Perhaps if I’d stated it more elegantly, as the wonderful Elaine Cunningham did in the comments section, it wouldn’t have provoked some enraged readers to forever swear off my books.  I never believed that blogging could help a writer sell books; now it seems clear that blogging can make you lose readers.  Which may explain why writers who’ve reached a certain point in their careers cut off all contact with the public. It’s safer that way.

You never know when something you write will get people pissed off at you.  I never said that my books were “pearls before swine.”  I was talking specifically about OTHER writers’ books being unappreciated, books that i thought deserved better.  I suspect that a majority of writers agree that they read books with a different eye than non-writers do.  Writers can point to books they consider artistically brilliant which were ignored by the reading public.  And writers can also point to megaselling novels, beloved by the readers, that are clumsily written.  But perhaps we shouldn’t say such things in public.  

Last April, the Washington Post performed a fascinating experiment, described in an article (aptly) entitled: “Pearls Before Breakfast.”  They enlisted the help of world-famous violinist Joshua Bell to play in a busy Washington subway station.  He performed wearing a jeans and tee-shirt, so he might have been any street musician, except for the fact that he was Joshua Bell, he was playing a rare 18th century instrument, and the pieces he performed were among the most challenging ever written for the violin.  The Washington Post wondered: would the average passerby recognize genius?

They soon had their answer.

Thousands of commuters streamed past, ignoring the concert violinist in their midst.  When questioned later, many didn’t even register that there was a musician in the station.  Those who did remember him dismissed him as just another busker out to earn a living, nothing special.  Maybe played too loudly.  Big deal; they wouldn’t pay anything to watch him perform, even in a concert hall.

Only a few people did stop to listen.  One was a man named John Picarello.

“Like all the passersby interviewed for this article, Picarello was stopped by a reporter after he left the building, and was asked for his phone number. Like everyone, he was told only that this was to be an article about commuting. When he was called later in the day, like everyone else, he was first asked if anything unusual had happened to him on his trip into work. Of the more than 40 people contacted, Picarello was the only one who immediately mentioned the violinist…

(Picarello said):”This was a superb violinist. I’ve never heard anyone of that caliber. He was technically proficient, with very good phrasing. He had a good fiddle, too, with a big, lush sound. I walked a distance away, to hear him. I didn’t want to be intrusive on his space… Yeah, other people just were not getting it. It just wasn’t registering. That was baffling to me.”

When Picarello was growing up in New York, he studied violin seriously, intending to be a concert musician. But he gave it up at 18, when he decided he’d never be good enough to make it pay. Life does that to you sometimes. Sometimes, you have to do the prudent thing. So he went into another line of work. He’s a supervisor at the U.S. Postal Service. Doesn’t play the violin much, anymore.”

And then there was another commuter who stopped — a woman named Janice Olu who recognized that Bell was more than just a common street performer:

“Olu, a public trust officer with HUD, also played the violin as a kid. She didn’t know the name of the piece she was hearing, but she knew the man playing it has a gift.

Olu was on a coffee break and stayed as long as she dared. As she turned to go, she whispered to the stranger next to her, “I really don’t want to leave.” The stranger standing next to her happened to be working for The Washington Post.”

What struck me when I read the article was that the two commuters who immediately recognized Bell’s genius had themselves played the violin.  They weren’t professional musicians, but they had played the instrument and understood just how difficult and demanding the violin can be.  Surely their own struggles with the violin had taught them to recognize true musicianship, in a way that the average listener didn’t? 

In much the same way, I think that writers recognize good writing, even when other readers may not.

But enough of this topic; I’ll just get myself into more hot water. It’s hard enough dealing with bad reviews for my books; to get bad reviews of something as trivial as my blog is more heartburn than I can handle.  Dealing with the grumpy public can make any writer want to bar the door and stay out of sight. 

 

33 replies
  1. Denise A. Agnew
    Denise A. Agnew says:

    Tess,
    Let me be the first to say I understood your previous blog and didn’t think there was anything offensive about it. But I’m also an author. 🙂 This is really ironic because tonight I just created a snippet for a blog that goes up next week…the title of the blog is TALENT ISN’T A BEST SELLER LIST. I think I’ve sort of hit close to home with that blog, too. It’s sort of like any other career. Most of us think we know what it’s like to be a firefighter or a cop or a nurse or doctor. But we really don’t…unless we’ve been in their shoes and seen how it really works. 🙂 That’s how I look at it. I also read a book recently that I really loved. A good friend loathed the book…absolutely loathed it. The hero had done something unforgiveable to her that wasn’t unforgiveable to me. There was a clear difference in what I saw as brilliant and she hated.

    Denise A. Agnew

  2. Richard Cooper
    Richard Cooper says:

    Tess,

    You have every right to feel like you do, but don’t get heartburn! It is not really your problem when other people get upset, especially when they allow themselves to get bent out of shape over (as you said) a “trivial blog” and “an innocuous subject.”

    Just like some people might value a painting or a sculpture at thousands of dollars, or as priceless, other people might see these pieces of fine art as mere drips of paint or blobs of bronze.

    No one can account for the diversity of personal reactions, good or bad or misconstrued.

    I believe it serves no good purpose to cry over the chasm of the interpretation of quality.

  3. joe does
    joe does says:

    Dear Tess:
    I just want to thank you so much for putting yourself out there on this blog the way you do. I consider it a privilege to be able to read your thoughts on a wide variety of subjects. What is more personal than our thoughts, and how courageous it is to share them with strangers, and literally, the entire world. You know you will get flack from some of the readers yet you persevere.
    It was an eye-opener for me to read that your writing is so pervasive in your life, to the point of interjecting itself in your vacations! You have brought a new perspective to the mystery novel with your medical training and I enjoy your books. Please keep up the wonderful blog and know that many who do not express themselves here enjoy it as I do.

  4. doomer
    doomer says:

    Sounds like you & George Noory need to converse about something weird to get your mind off reviews & blog immune responses.

  5. Kyle K.
    Kyle K. says:

    Yeah, I absolutely got what you were trying to say in your last post. And I would definitely have to agree with you. There are more books than I can count that I’ve put down after finishing and wondered how they were bestsellers… and the same goes for books that aren’t widely known but should be.

    Did anyone else read The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold? I loved the whole thing, yet it got crapped on by many of her readers and most of the critics… but I realized that she was able to pull of something incredible with such subtlety… amazing. Yet, do I think that as a reader, or a writer? I think more as a writer, because I understand how incredibly difficult it is to do exactly what she did.

    I also want to thank you for this blog. You are selfless with your readers, and we would all be abysmally saddened if you were to become a recluse.

  6. vivien
    vivien says:

    Tess,

    I can appreciate your feelings but hope you don’t bar the door. It’s great to have writers such as yourself be willing to be so visible.

    Even as an ordinary blogger I get folk sometimes reacting badly to my expressing an opinion. Looking at the comments a lot of folk got what you were saying.

    I did like the violin story.

    Blessings,

    Vivienne

  7. Patricia Wood
    Patricia Wood says:

    I,too, agree that writers read differently than readers. Not better. Not worse. Just differently. We recognize the difficulties from our own feeble attempts.
    re the violinist –I read the original Washington Post article and was amazed at the time.
    I also believe blogging serves a useful purpose. I have been helped by Tess in my mind boggling first year of publication.
    A rare reader may be lost but many others gained.
    And Tess? Thanks for the email. I am STOKED!!!!
    (Tess and I were momentarily on the same Tesco chart in the UK last week-she’s still on it – my glory was brief but oh so precious! LOL)

  8. struggler
    struggler says:

    I think it’s likely that no matter what the profession, someone actively employed within it is bound to have a different point of view to those ‘on the other side of the counter’. A better understanding of how tough it is. But don’t change a thing Tess – keep up your blog and focus on all that is good about what you do and how much the overwhelming majority of us out here in the void appreciate it, even if you only hear from a fraction of us. Personally I only read ONE writer’s blog, and it’s yours of course. Other writers have forums to which they rarely contribute, but here we all love your hands-on involvement and wouldn’t want the opinions of a handful of losers to make you change anything about it.

    On a brighter note, I’m reminded of a very old joke in which two psychiatrists pass each other in the street – one them says “Hey, you’re fine! How am I?”

    🙂

  9. Josephine Damian
    Josephine Damian says:

    Tess, your blog is your castle – you can control what anyone says here by moderating comments – trolls and naysayers have freedom of speech, but they’re not entitled to it here – let them go someplace else to speak their mind (where hopefully you’ll ignore them).

  10. Craig
    Craig says:

    Tess, you made your point very clear to me and I would naturally expect an author to look at another author’s work differently from us non-authors. That’s why I’m a regular “contributor” to this blog. I find “the other side of the fence” fascinating. As far as the crank goes, I was going to stay out of it, but now I don’t think I will. I have been a contributor to more than one blog and/or message boards and they all seem to attract “lurkers” who stay in the shadows and finally pop off and make some sort of negative comment. What makes your blog different is that every one here is so civil and makes, until very recently, some very intelligent comments. This individual was behaving like a three year old who’s going to take his sand pail and shovel and go home. Well, boo hoo. I love people who have different opinions than mine; that’s when I learn things. And you didn’t say “pearls before swine”; it was one blogger’s take and I don’t particularly have a problem with that. I have a problem with the lurker.

  11. Craig
    Craig says:

    A PS on my comments. Lurker–I didn’t stutter–L-U-R-K-E-R and what does that make a smart guy like me? Very likely a deer in the headlights. 🙂

  12. dustinhood
    dustinhood says:

    Welcome back to America. Hope that you had a blast over there! I would like to say you ain’t got to give a damn what other people think, but with your and my career, we kind of have to. But you can say whatever you want. (Freedom of Speech) That’s one of the great things about America. I read the blog and thought it was very true, but hey, that’s just me and I’m a writer. But I feel the same way. MOST readers who are not writers don’t appricate the blood, sweat, and tears that were poured into the novel that the author is praying sells well- even through the bad reviews. Keep your head up, Tess. I’ll always be behind you 100% 🙂

    Dustin

  13. knaster
    knaster says:

    Hi Tess,

    Welcome back. Boy, were you missed! Reagarding your last blog, what a shambles. Most of the comments were from readers who really read into it too much. I think BLOG should stand for Boy, Look Out Guys!
    Your blogs are informative and reflect what you, as a writer, need to express to us, your readers.
    As per the violin story above, I, too, would just walk past a musician playing in the subway. If I like what I hear, I offer a donation. For those New Yorkers out there, the only thing you worry about in a NY subway nowadays is getting to your destination alive. Sure, music can be a pleasant change of pace from the hustle and bustle of thousands of commuters rushing around, banging into you, cursing, talking on the cell phone, or just people who really don’t give a damn!
    I did not think your last blog demeaned anyone at all. “Pearls before swine” was the perfect line to use. But don’t let it get to you personally. You have a different perspective when it comes to other writers’ works than we, the readers, do. A lot of people I know like to read Shakespeare. I don’t. Some like James Joyce. I don’t. Some like Walt Whitman. I don’t. But does that make me better than them? Am I less cultural? NO!
    If I want to read Steven King and you dont, tough! If I want to read John Grisham and you don’t, tough! I read Tess Gerritsen. You don’t like it, you don’t have to read her books, but don’t judge me because your preferences are different than mine.
    What I’m saying here, Tess, is this. For every bad review of an author’s work, there are at least 2 favorable ones out there. You’re right – a majority of writers agree that they read books with a different eye than non-writers do. But that’s their perogative. We have no right to dictate.
    I am so glad that you’re back. Put your feet up, grab that cup of coffee and put the world out of your mind. Just remember, we love you!
    Abe

  14. Lorra Laven
    Lorra Laven says:

    I recently attended a concert of the Cleveland Orchestra playing Beethoven’s 4th Piano Concerto.

    My guest was enthralled by the performance, claiming she had never heard or witnessed a more dazzling performance by a soloist.

    The first words out of my obnoxious mouth were, “Wow. I can’t believe the pianist ignored the conductor’s tempo and came in so much faster. And did you notice the problem’s with cues?”

    Dumbfounded, she looked at me with annoyance. “I’m glad I’m not you. I thoroughly enjoyed every second and didn’t hear any of that.”

    I’m a musician and without meaning to, I listen with hyper-critical ears even though I could never come close to the performance offered by the artist that day.

    But I’ll tell you what’s worse than going to a concert with me: Going with my Juilliard-educated son. Listening to his comments, one would have thought the stage fell in and crushed all the musicians.

    There’s no question in my mind that writer’s read with completely different eyes than non-writers. It’s not necessarily a good thing nor does it imply that writers are better educated or know more than non-writers. In fact, per my example, I’m not sure it’s a good thing. But it is the way of the world.

  15. BernardL
    BernardL says:

    Since I mentioned the ‘Pearls before swine’ remark first, I offer this clarification. It had nothing to do with your books, Tess, or even your attitude. I meant it in humorous reference as to why a reader might become upset enough to post a bad review of what you considered a good book, because the reader expected something entirely different than what he or she got. I don’t think your musical analogy works in regard to writing though, except in its simplest terms. A classical symphony may lull the greatest jazz trumpet player who ever lived to sleep; but at the same time, inspire a novice flutist to dedicate their life to music. I enjoy your blog very much; and I’m sorry my comment was taken as a put down of your post, or your books. Just goes to show, never try for a cheap laugh with the written word.

  16. tuttle
    tuttle says:

    Tess-
    As an amateur writer (one or two things published online but nothing on paper-yet!) I know that there are lots of people out there who would love the romance of being a writer.

    But like in the violin player story, especially the two quoted admirers of him who themselves had played and in the end (sadly?)wound up doing other things with their lives, they at least appreciated the time and effort required to get to the point where one could play that well.

    Same goes for (most) writers. Successful writers appreciate good writing (as do many readers)

    But thanks to the internet, ANYBODY can ‘write’ and comment (or at least complain anonymously)and throw out an opinion or two. Thus, they can “be” a critic and toss about hurtful opinions about the writer’s works for all to see.

    This is the double edged sword of many writer’s blogs.

    These days, as never before possible, you, as a writer, not only are afforded the wonderful opportunity to keep in touch with your thousands (and sometimes for the luckier writer’s-millions) of loyal readers between projects and hold fireside chats or reveal inner thoughts while you work or share pictures as you tour etc..etc…

    ….you also have to tolerate the few ‘critics’ who are allowed access to the very same internet and blogs as they come into your space and point their finger and throw the occassional egg in your direction because you didn’t ‘deliver’ . (But then there are libraries available where one can test drive a book without dishing out hard earned cash)

    Hang tough Tess.
    Take a couple of tums, enjoy a good meal this evening and keep writing.

  17. Kristin G
    Kristin G says:

    I remember reading about the violinist…my first thought was: context. People in a Metro station are not there to stop and listen to music. They are there to get to work or do some kind of business. Most people have their commutes timed down to the minute.

    So, I didn’t think it was quite a fair test. Maybe try the same thing in a place where people are going for leisure or entertainment, and they might have gotten a different reaction. A park or the zoo or somewhere less oriented towards time and schedules. I think there were probably more people who noted the music was quite good, but didn’t have the time to stand and listen.

    As for understanding quality based on experience, I agree. I played the piano for awhile. I was always very amateur, but enjoy music. I can still, 20 years later, appreciate a skillful pianist, because I know how hard some pieces are.

  18. Lorra Laven
    Lorra Laven says:

    Tess –

    Completely off topic: On Law and Order SVU last night there was an episode about body snatching for profit. The bodies and/or parts were sold to medical schools. Couldn’t help but think about “The Bone Garden.”

    In a convoluted tale, the episode segued into a piece about organ shortages and the illegality of buying/selling organs – a rather modernistic take on the subject of your book.

  19. ec
    ec says:

    It’s hard enough dealing with bad reviews for my books; to get bad reviews of something as trivial as my blog is more heartburn than I can handle. Dealing with the grumpy public can make any writer want to bar the door and stay out of sight.

    While I haven’t had many blog-related problems, I’ve had some unpleasant encounters on message boards, and as a result, seldom frequent them. I know a few writers who used to be very accessible online but now interact with readers in limited fashion, if at all.

    Granted, the lack of non-verbal cues in online communication leaves a lot of room for ambiguity and misunderstanding, but it seems to me that some people approach online reader/author interaction as adversarial in nature. Why this is, I couldn’t tell you. I’m guessing that attention-seeking is a big part of the equasion for some. Perhaps the isolation–after all, it’s just you and your computer–fosters a lack of perspective, promoting an “it’s all about ME” frame of reference. Whatever the cause, there seem to be a lot of people who are predisposed to perceive a writer’s most general, innocuous remark as a personal insult.

    And sometimes, not quite an insult, but still personal. TG has stated several times that she views her blog as a place to vent. To a lot of readers and writers, aspiring and published alike, there’s a lot of appeal in “a view from the top,” and quite frequently, something to be learned. But the subtext of many comments, and sometimes it’s not particularly subtle, is “How DARE you complain about anything when thousands of people would love to be where you are?” Seriously, if I’d sold ten copies of my last book for every time someone said, “Count your blessings, Tess,” my amazon.com ranking would get a significant bump.

    I’m sure that sometimes the “count your blessings” bit is meant to be an encouragement rather than an admonition, but it invariably reminds me of a comment my older sister once made about my younger sister. Sister #3 is small and slim; sister #1 is considerably heavier. The younger sister complained about putting on a few pounds after she had to a) quit smoking so she could b) have extensive back surgery and then had to c) stay in bed for weeks. I know a lot of people who would automatically assume #3’s comment was a personal dig, or at best, insensitive, but #1 just shrugged and said, “Whether you’re a size two or twenty, if your pants are too tight, they can be pretty damned uncomfortable.”

  20. JanetK
    JanetK says:

    ec, I think your #1 sister has a superb attitude. Good for her.

    Tess, it’s nice to have you back — hope you had a grand time! And I’d stop for Joshua Bell any day. He doesn’t even have to play anything 🙂

  21. drosdelnoch
    drosdelnoch says:

    Hey Tess and all,
    I think its an interesting argument and cleverly explained through the musician tale. Whilst not a professional musician I can comment on pieces I hear, whether the player comes in to quick, is slighly out of key etc. I have a hard time reading music and play by ear which is why I perhaps recognise that side of things. I wouldnt however say that its restricted to whether the person plays the same instrument or not. I think anyone with a gift in that field is qualified to comment to a certain degree.

    I suspect that with writing (and with it being a skill that most people use each day) a lot of people think that they can comment about things without any real forethought. Thats where I say theres a difference. That whilst everyone uses words, authors are very selective about how they place them, they can agonise over the phrase for quite sometime whereas most of us just throw it out there.

    As an example I could say that the robber was about my height with brown footwear and a grey top. A writer may have made a better note and said “The Robber stood just shy of 6ft wearing a grey jogging top and chocolate brown cowboy boot.” Both are correct but the writers is more accurate. Theyve taken time and noted additional details, theyve then passed on a better description that the reader can then translate into an appearance.

    Its a case of each to thier own. A writer can spot the architecture behind the facade of anything that they read. Whilst they may not appreciate the book on a whole they can admire the style and sense that comes over. Most readers never look that deep.

  22. bob k
    bob k says:

    Tess,

    Please, please, please don’t even consider walking away from the blog. I know you must get frustrated at times, but I suspect you don’t understand what a special experience it is for us – your readers – to be able to interact with you from time to time, to learn more about who you really are and how you think and feel.

    I am amazed that anyone could have been offended by the prior post – because I too understood what you were trying to say. My own experience with watching golf on TV – the most hideously boring experience in my life…until I took up golf and played a lot over the course of 3 or 4 years. Then I found golf on TV fascinating – these men and women were doing things I could never dream of – they were so good. And rather than thing it was dull – I wished the TV could do a better job of showing us the dimensionality of the game – the slope of the greens, the hils, the dips, the depths of the grass, etc. (Perhaps HD will do this for me…).

    To the readers that were bothered by your blog post…I really thought all Tess was saying was that she sees some books differently than we might because she is a writer. I have no doubt it is true. I suspect I see some books differently than Tess does – or than the rest of the people on this blog do, because I have some relationship or affinity for the subject matter, or some other aspect of the book.

    And you know – if Tess reads a book and thinks “That was beautifully written…I am surprised it wasn’t a much better selling book.” – it doesn’t mean that if I read the book and hated it, that I am somehow wrong…or inferior. Because personal tastes are just that.

    I am sure I have read fabulously written books…that I hated. And I know for a fact that I have read books that were not overly well written – but I loved the story!

    To each his own.

  23. vividexpression
    vividexpression says:

    I completely agree with you and your previous post wasn’t offensive, at least to me.

    Honestly, I forget that there are people out there who read but don’t write. It’s strange for me to think that, being a writer and a reader.

    I have taken a break from writing to read (p.s. I finished The Bone Garden and it was awesome!) and I think I have a better grasp of what makes a book good versus great. I know what bores me, when the pacing should be faster or slower, how the character should act based on his personality, and when the dialogue is off.

    But this also comes from knowing how to write conflict, character, plot, etc.

    I do agree personal taste becomes a factor, and some people may dislike a book simply based on the content. At least writers can say, that wasn’t my cup of tea but it was well written.

    There are some bestsellers where I do not understand their appeal, like The Time Traveler’s Wife, which was so long and wordy that I could barely get through 1/4 of it.

    If I dislike a book, it comforts me to go on Amazon and see if at least one person thought the same things as I did. haha

  24. therese
    therese says:

    Dear Tess,
    Chew on calcium based antacids and do deep breathing. Meditate on tuttle’s comment:

    “I know that there are lots of people out there who would love the romance of being a writer.”

    While there is a touch of ‘romance’ to having written, being a writer is tough work. It’s also very public and I will add my encouragement to continuing your blog. You may see it as where you ‘vent’ but in comparison to other author blogs, yours are insightful and informative about the inside world of publishing. Since writing and the publishing industry are two exceptionally different aspects of the same professional world, your insights on this blog are greatly appreciated.

    The other thing I’ve noted on your blog that is different from other author blogs I frequently check, is the diversity and clarity of those that post. Many posts to your blog are as insightful and informative as your comments.

    Just consider the annoyance of those recent snippy posts as ‘pop-ups’ – something most of us have blocked already. Antacids ready? Get in your meditation pose. Uhmmmm…..

    Cheers!

  25. BladeOmega
    BladeOmega says:

    Count me among those who enjoy, and hope to continue enjoying, your communications with us. I fancy myself a writer (or at least, I used to), so I have an idea as to how you feel about the subject. And I agree. But even if I didn’t agree, I would never swear off of your work. I have thoroughly enjoyed each of your books that I’ve read (as of this writing, that’s everything but the romances. I’ll get to them eventually). Anyway, my point is that I always want to hear what another person has to say, regardless of whether I agree.

    By the way, I’m familiar with the story about the violinist. I saw a video about it a while back.

    Thank you for sharing. I eagerly await your next communication.

  26. GerritsenFever10
    GerritsenFever10 says:

    Come on Tess, you know the person just wanted to get a rise out of you! Don’t even let that bother you. If a “reader” is too stupid to realize that your post was about how authors view other authors work then that reader needs to be forced from your blogsite in my opinion. What kind of idiot who claims to be a reader can’t comprehend what you were talking about. I knew where you where coming from the minute I laid eyes on the TITLE much less the whole article. Just block him and you’ll get the pleasure of playing god for a minute, Tess. Control your surroundings and they can’t hurt you, right? 😉

  27. JD Rhoades
    JD Rhoades says:

    As a guitarist (a casual one at best), I think I definitely listen to music, particularly guitarists, differently. I don’t think it makes me an elitist, it’s more that I have another way of appreciating something that a non-musician doesn’t have, another “tool in the box” so to speak. By which I mean, I can listen to someone like, say, Leo Kottke or Adrian Legg and not only hear a beautiful melody or a great rhythm, but feel the awe of knowing from bitter experience how hard it is to play like that. Likewise, when I read, say, Ken Bruen, it knocks me for a loop because I know how hard it is to write so much in so few words. (And when I read Gerritsen, I’m in awe becuase I know how hard it is to make a story flow so well and so compellingly that you just have to keep reading, bedtime be damned :-). )

    As for the previous blog post: I certainly didn’t see anything offensive, and I confess I didn’t go back and read the comments till just now.
    A friend of mine once put it this way: some people are offense kleptomaniacs, that is, they can’t stop themselves from taking offense. Unfortunately, such people make so much noise their numbers seem greater than they are. Don’t let one petulant, thin skinned crybaby who got in a snit over what they thought you said drive you off the blog.

  28. Annalisa
    Annalisa says:

    Without getting into the debate of whether writers read differently than non-writers, I just wanted to say that you have gained at least one reader due to your blog. 🙂

    Some way or another I came across your blog and subscribed to your RSS feed immediately. I’m an aspiring writer and it’s so enlightening to read your frank, brave, detailed insights on what it’s like to be a writer. And reassuring, because I too am one of those people who doesn’t leave work at work, constantly worries, puts in a lot of effort but still feels like it’s not enough, etc. It means a lot to see a reflection of yourself in a person who shines so brightly, as you do.

    Just before Christmas I bought The Surgeon and had my nose in it till it was done. I’ll be looking for more Tess Gerritsen books in the future!

  29. lewis
    lewis says:

    All right, OK. I can tell I’m not wanted here. TG, when is name-calling an appropriate form of argument? So far I’ve been called full of hatred, a crank, stupid, a lurker (I assume in the pejorative sense) and a crybaby (at least twice), and an idiot who should be banned. Since you haven’t taken the opportunity to say anything to the contrary, I have to believe you feel the same way.

    But I don’t feel quite as bad about it after I read what your fans said about David Pitt, the reviewer for Booklist whom you sicced them on in a previous post. He “slimed” your book, you said. What happened next was no coincidence. A “clown,” the first poster said. His middle name is “SweatyArm,” said another, not to mention the not unexpected “ignorant,” “stupid” and so on from others.

    He may have been wrong in his opinion, but enough so that it warranted name-calling? I don’t think so.

    And more importantly, what I saw, or what I didn’t see, is that you, TG, didn’t say, whoa now, that’s enough. Perhaps what they were saying about Mr. Pitt is exactly what you were thinking.

    But to go back to what I replied to in your previous post:

    You said

    “ … And I’ll wonder, what’s wrong with these readers? Why don’t they appreciate the skill and talent that went into creating Author XYZ’s masterpiece?

    “I think the answer is this: we writers notice what the average reader completely misses.

    “… Everybody’s a critic. But very few of us can actually compose an opera — or write a book.”

    And I, reacting from the viewpoint of the “average reader,” found this condescending. Yes, I’ve taken these sentences out of context, but please keep in mind that I was not speaking only for myself, but for others who’ve read your blog, agreed with me and felt the same way. At least two other posters agreed with me, even though the attacks on me began almost immediately.

    The intent of your post was clear, but I still submit that it was not well phrased. “We writers” vs. “the average reader” is hardly a stance that begins a convincing argument, is it? To the average reader, that is?

    To all of the name-callers, you should be ashamed of yourselves.

  30. Tess
    Tess says:

    Lewis,
    you are right, I should try to maintain better control over all the negative comments. I’m going to delete pretty much all the comments from that blog post, except for Elaine Cunningham’s, because it’s so well written.

  31. april
    april says:

    I’m not easily offended. I actually really enjoyed the entry. I, personally, find authors websites, blogs, and their communication with their readers encouraging. When an author gets huge, I understand it’s more difficult to maintain the same level of communication, but I sometimes feel like the author gets too big to identify with the reader as well.

    As for Joshua Bell, I would have loved to see him play at a Metro stop. I love good musicians. I can’t say I played the violin, but I’ve sat through enough poorly-played violin music that I can appreciate talent when I hear it. There are some talented musicians at Metro stations though – mostly saxophone from what I hear. The one at Union Station always gets some cash from me.

  32. bethFL
    bethFL says:

    First: I find the blogs of authors and other professionals fascinating. I like knowing what makes people ‘tick.’ I’m not judging or getting offended – just reading.
    Second: I don’t agree with Tess that only authors can recognize good writing. I am NOT an author but I recognize great writing. That’s why I read Tess! And I read non-fiction writers repeatedly even when I disagree with them – just because I love the way they say it!
    Back to Tess. Again, I am not a writer, but a huge fan. And this last book: Better than all the rest of them combined! And I was a number #1 Fan of all of them too.
    Thanks to Tess for keeping up the blog. It gives me my ‘Tess Fix’ during the winter.

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