Why Book Reviews and Critiques Are Essentially Pointless.

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Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash

Because “good writing” is, for the most part, relative and decided on by the eye of the beholder.

Good grammar aside, the books that people like, and the writing they deem quality, and the stories they find most memorable, are going to differ from person to person.

Each book will speak to someone. Potentially if the author is lucky, even many someones.

No one experiences the same book in the same way.

Take two separate reviews of the same book, a debut literary novel from a NY publisher. One remarked on the authors appealing ability and talent to “turn a phrase” and thus, write well. The other review remarked on her bumbling, stilted prose. Then, get this, both reviews quoted the same line from her book as an example! One remarking of its quality, the other on its apparent lack thereof.

Thus, there is no “good” writing (proper grammar aside).

Any given story or piece of writing that lights up, inspires, grips, or moves one person .

Take any book, and you will find people who love it, as well as people who loathe it.

What thrills one person can repel another.

Prose that reads like poetry to one person will feel long-winded and boring to another.

Heart swooning sentiment and romantic symbolism will be a favorite of many readers, while others will find it cheesy and dull.

You get the idea.

Thus, listening to critiques and praise, leaning too heavily on or taking such too seriously is akin to attempting to keep one’s eye on hundreds of birds arching into the sky simultaneously, all flying in varying directions. It’s akin to attempting to serve 100 different people a drink, at the exact same time, with only your two arms.

No matter what you write (or create, or do in your life), there will always be someone who likes it, and always someone who dislikes it, because everyone is as different and unique as you.

Look at all the people whom you pass by or encounter today. Every life you see wandering past has never happened before, and will never happen again. Everyone is as original as you. And yet, we love to compare. Constantly labeling people as either “ordinary” or “unique.”

This is wildly flawed .

We may have similarities, but all of us are a constellation and kaleidoscope of differences, varying nuances, and traits, with an original background and childhood, and a complex personality.

Thus, the comparison game is a moot point and misguided pursuit.

When you go to tell a story, while a similar one may have been told before, , with the same details and spins on it that you put. And if we each do that, bring our own voice and soul to every creation we make or story we tell, it will always be unique and different, without you even trying to make it so.

Ignore the critiques and critics. They are ultimately meaningless. It’s not necessarily bad to consider the viewpoints of another. Alternate viewpoints can be helpful if we have requested them and are looking for areas in which we might improve a piece or story. However, do not forget that no matter how many edits and shifts you make to your work, there will always be people who find meaning and joy in it, those who will love your work. And there will ever be people who cannot understand it, find it lame, or even dislike it. This is a given, it’s normal, and it’s all good.

And this is why critiques and critics are pointless. Because no matter what you change, alter, or edit, someone else will have an opinion, good or bad, as well.

If you want to write fearlessly and fantastically, you must write what you love.

You must write the story by which you are most emotionally and mentally occupied, one you are intrigued as well as thrilled by.

You will never write better, nor with more authority or originality than when writing what you most want to write.

This keeps your mind and heart returning to it, on its own. When we truly love something, we don’t have to force ourselves toward it. We are instead, naturally drawn. The same thinking can be applied to our choice in friendships, careers, personal projects, other interpersonal connections, and romantic loves. Choose to surround yourself with and spend time on that which you truly love and that which illuminates your spirit.

This includes, especially, the books you read and the things you write.

Don’t bother worrying much about the reviews and critics. Instead, write what makes your heart soar. Someone, somewhere, is finding meaning and inspiration in your story, in your thoughts and words. And how awe-inspiring and incredible is that?

Written by

Fervent writer. Ravenous reader. Impassioned with words. Relationship researcher. Social Scientist. Social Justice Advocate. Author. www.brookeenglish.com

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