Internal Struggle Dance!

So I’ve decided I want to become a honey connoisseur! I’m not fond of wine, but I could happily stick spoonfuls of honey in my mouth all day and rhapsodize on the “full bodied aroma” and whatnot. I had this idea a few months ago and laughed it off, but now I’m seriously considering it as a hobby. Anyone know of any Northern California honey tasting events? Someday, when I have a place of my own, I’d like to give beekeeping a try too.

I believe I mentioned a few posts ago that I now have a Goodreads account. Well, now I’m having second thoughts. See, I’m sort of having this internal struggle over rating certain books. I’m a pretty tough critic and don’t like to give books 5 stars unless it’s the kind of book that I fell so head-over-heels in love with that I shove it at all my friends.

 

Normally, this doesn’t present a problem, but what do you do when it’s a 4-star book (out of a possible 5 stars), but you sort of know the author? Even if it was just a chummy conversation, it just gets awkward, doesn’t it? I’ve heard that even agents and editors will get offended by a less-than-perfect rating on their clients’ books, which is equally intimidating. But really, it’s the author that worries me the most.

Like it or not, when you’re a writer, your book becomes a part of your identity. I have no problem offering criticism to a friend on their in-progress work because nothing is permanent yet. But when it’s a published book, criticism is meant for potential readers, not the author. On the internet, though, you have no control over who sees it. This wasn’t a problem on Shelfari because I only have like two friends there. However, Goodreads is much more popular and public.

A fellow writer once urged me to just give everything 5 stars. She wasn’t about to run the risk of losing an agent’s interest or an author friend. I gave this some consideration, but I can’t bring myself to be that shmoozy. Another friend recommended leaving a review blank if you know the author, but didn’t love their book. This is more palatable, so perhaps I’ll end up using this method instead of closing my account, but I’m still very much on the fence.

Any advice?

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Courtney Mohland
    Sep 20, 2011 @ 20:29:47

    For honey: you might look for things around Napa. They’ve got some things in that area that are stellar and you’ll love, though I don’t know if there is a particular honey-tasting event.

    For books: I think it’s a tough call. Considering I’m publishing my book, I do think there’s a certain shift that comes once it’s all said and done. When it comes to having help and making changes, I’m cool with that during the editing process. You want your work to be the best it can get at a certain point. I think the important thing to do as a reader when you’re reading someone else’s published work is to act like a reader. Don’t read as an English major or an editor, read to enjoy. There’s no easy way to give a writer criticism, though it’s easier when they ask.

    While I don’t want harsh criticism on my book and I’m already being harsh on myself, I think I’m going to ask my friends to read it for enjoyment’s sake. I’ve had so many people pour over my stuff as an editor and as writers, but it loses certain things when you don’t have someone reading it for pleasure. I don’t mind if it’s not the most terribly written book because it’s not meant to be amazing… it’s meant to be the sample spoonful at Baskin Robbins where you get enough flavor to know there can be something great. As far as feedback… I think what I’ll have people do is to list off things they want to see more of from me as a writer. Not necessarily problems or strengths, but things they either saw and want more of or didn’t see in what they read. It’s a matter of getting an idea of what readers want than what writers read. 🙂

    As far as things go in terms of authors who are friends? I think if you liked it, say so. You could even slip in a little hint to something that you weren’t happy with. “I liked the book but I wish that there had been more of MINORCHARACTERNAMEHERE because he was pretty cool. But overall it was awesome!”

    Sounds cheesy, but I think that’s a nice way of putting things.

    Reply

  2. Darshana
    Sep 21, 2011 @ 03:37:47

    Hi Tahlia,

    If you are ever in the San Jose Area, you can check out Willow Glen Honey.
    http://www.willowglenhoney.com/
    We get our honey from him. Last time he was home and showed my daughter some of equipment he uses to make honey.
    He teaches BeeKeeping classes down here at Happy Hollow Park and Zoo.

    As for your dilemma on book reviews. I know what you mean. For now I have decided to review only books I like and want to recommend to others on my blog. For that reason I am not taking requests. I know so few people in the book industry, don’t want to burn any bridges.

    Hope that helps,
    Darshana

    Reply

  3. MissMystra
    Sep 22, 2011 @ 05:41:36

    Thanks Darshana! Next time I visit my San Jose friends, I will check them out!

    Reply

  4. MissMystra
    Sep 22, 2011 @ 05:49:20

    Courtney: Well, any excuse to go to the beautiful Napa area is cool by me, all the better if it involves honey! And good advice on critiques. I’m not worried about liking/not liking YOUR book because 1. I’m pretty sure it will be awesome! 2. On the off-chance I only mostly love it, I’ll talk to you about it in person, and then it’s a conversation instead of me simply putting an impersonal review out there. 3. I know that you’ll be in the same position when I publish my book, so we’re on pretty equal footing 🙂

    Reply

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