Finally, I got a book review.
Jeff, I’m about halfway through your BABWTR book, and I’m not sure I can finish it. Your attitude on pace and disparaging road running is exactly why people like me don’t go to group runs, are terrified to join the trail community, and don’t dare call ourselves runners. Your flippant words on running are tough to comprehend. I hope you find ways to be more inviting and understanding.
Maybe not the review I was hoping for. In truth, this isn’t a review, it’s part of an email I received from a guy named Pete. Here’s the actual review:
At least he gave me three stars. My favorite part about being a writer is what happens after the writing is published. I like connecting with readers. And as a reader, I like connecting with writers. I do this on WordPress daily, and I often do it after I finish a novel. I’ve only left a few reviews on Amazon, but I’ve emailed, Facebooked and Tweeted at writers dozens of times. Usually, they write back. Their response is typically an answer to whatever question I posed, or thanking me for the praise I’ve heaped upon them. And then I message back.
And silence. I’ve gone too far. I’ve become annoying. Or creepy. I’ve learned that people aren’t that excited about corresponding with strangers. But I do it anyway.
I’ve written two books. I’m not going to post links to them here because I’m sick of promoting them, but at the end of each book I say something like “I’d love to hear from you, so drop me a line” and I give my email address. I’ve only received emails twice. And one of those times was Pete. When I envisioned readers contacting me, I was thinking praise, possibly looking for clarification, or maybe just to start a conversation. I wasn’t looking for criticism.
I’m not sure if he expected it or even wanted it, but I responded to Pete’s email. I felt it necessary to explain myself to him and let him know to expect a shift in my attitude later in the book. And it’s true, a few years ago, I found a medication for my Tourette Syndrome symptoms. Besides lessening the unwanted sounds and motions that characterize the disorder, the medicine removed most of my obsessive thoughts… the thoughts that fuel the obnoxious attitude that set Pete off in the first place. Everything written post medication has smoother edges, a more measured tone.
Pete wrote me back acknowledging that the book lightened up. He even apologized for commenting before finishing the book. Since he wrote to me twice, I thought we should be friends, So I wrote to him again. Not for any particular reason, just to continue our conversation. In real life, a complaint I’ve received sporadically–and flagellated myself with repeatedly–is that my shyness around people prevents me from carrying on a conversation. With email, social media and on blog comments, I have the opposite problem. I miss those social cues that guide interaction. I never know when to stop.
Pete shut down our conversation after that, “Thank you, Jeff. I appreciate your candor and response. Best to you!” A phrase I read as Don’t write back! I’m done with you. And then he posted that crap review.