Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Reader Turned Author Conundrum

I've been a reader virtually all my life. I was the girl who had a book stuck in her face at lunch time while all my other classmates were catching up on the latest high school gossip. (I let my friends fill me in between classes).

The Internet opened up a whole new world for me. I found other people who shared my ferocious love of reading. You know, those who find nothing strange about it taking you less than a month to read a 300-page book, because they, too, can read one in a day? I was quickly sucked into the world of message boards and chat rooms with other readers, where I would discuss the books I absolutely loved and those I...well...didn't.

And there, folks, is the crux of my conundrum. Now that I've become a published author, I no longer feel comfortable discussing the books I don't love so out in the open.

On one hand, I know that as a reader I'm entitled to my opinion and should be able to discuss any book I like or dislike with my friends. However, as an author who has run across a discussion or two about her own book, I now know what it feels like to have your work dissected like a 10th grade biology class frog. It can get messy. Like the frog.

I think those years of being strictly a reader has helped me handle the "I didn't like Farrah Rochon's book because..." thing pretty well because I've had to deal with other readers totally dissing some of the books that I absolutely adore. I'm ready to fight anyone who puts down Judith McNaught's Whitney, My Love way faster than anyone who says they didn't like Deliver Me.

But, what if another author hasn't had a chance to develop that thicker skin? What if she really does take those negative reviews to heart? How would I handle meeting that author face-to-face after I've talked ill about her work?

I guess the crux of the problem lies in no longer having anonymity on the Internet. It's more personal now that I have a website, MySpace page, and the like. I'm no longer just a name out there in some chat room. I have to consider the consequences, such as being bashed in retaliation, to whatever I say.

Hmm...and I thought writing under a pseudonym would take care of all this.

This is probably something I'll revisit, because it's something I continue to struggle with.