Did you like my novel?

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‘I like your novel. I enjoyed it.’ She says this plainly, a mere fact, but there’s no mistaking the rising inflexion making joy into a query… a statement of surprise.

‘I’m reading your novel.’ Nothing more. Just what should be a reassuring statement. But what does it mean? Has she finished the first chapter, where’s she up to? She doesn’t say.

‘I loved your novel,’ with a notable circumflex. But that’s over the top and you don’t believe her. It’s gushy, can’t be true. And a noted circumflex indicates there’s more to be said, but she says nothing more. What is it she won’t say?

Then there’s the silent friend, who came to the launch and never mentions your novel, ever again. Her silence more potent even than a notable circumflex or rising inflexion.

‘I liked your novel.’ The past tense. You feel robbed somehow. Only liked it.

Then a good friend goes on Goodreads and gives your novel four stars. You’re delighted and then you think… why not five stars? You check other books they gave five stars to. You try not to feel aggrieved. Now the distance between four and five stars becomes the distance between friends.

At last, a critic. You pay careful attention. Someone who read your novel and didn’t like it. They tear it apart skilfully, piece by piece, analyse its flaws. The flaws you already knew about and hoped no one would notice. You are riveted, you read every terrifying thing they write, not once, not twice, but over and over and over. You become greedy and Google your own novel become convinced that none of your friends know half as much as this really negative woman on Amazon. It feels good, you know you deserve this.

Praise is overrated.

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6 thoughts on “Did you like my novel?

  1. Sadly, this made me laugh out loud. It is EXACTLY how it is. Embarrassment at those that tell you how much they liked/loved your book (they must be drama queens); the empty air hanging between you and a reader when the statement of the read book is proffered. But, it’s the GoodReads and Amazon reviews that truly show the flesh beneath the armour. Those who give less than glowing are the real readers. They are the ONLY ones who really know what they are talking about. They are the super skilled lie detectors, falsehood finders, the Sherlock Holmes of the rooting out the pretenders realm. So what that I got 54 five stars. They are worthless next to the 2 one star reviews.

    You know it. So do I. As opposite to the truth of mothers and their babies, we writers can never see the truth of our work.

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  2. Hello Tania – so glad I made you laugh out loud. It’s a fun piece but yes, I’m glad I hit the mark. The thing is, and we both know it, we just so damn lucky to have this thing called writing and that’s the real joy. And too the unexpected email from a thoughtful person you’ve never met – of course you believe the stranger 🙂 And then, the passionate writer friends like yourself who know how it goes. Thank you. XX

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  3. Peter Farrell

    You are quite right Maggie (and Tania). We are such sensitive, vulnerable souls. I have similar experiences to those above although you could add this one to the collection, perhaps in the double edged sword section:

    “Haven’t read your book yet but I am on the waiting list at the library”

    She never did tell me whether she thought it worth the wait.

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    • Hello Janis – how lovely to hear from you and I totally respect your lovely feedback and I’m flattered. Efharisto to my fellow Makaro. I loved your novel ‘The Year of Falling’ as you already know.

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