On Entrekin, reviews, and response

Posted to et cetera, because that’s why I started that particular venture, but worth mentioning here: nearly a year and a half after its release, Cheryl Anne Gardner at POD People reviews Entrekin:

The depth of emotion is certainly there, and there are moments of truly elegant and poetic writing.

Overall, it seems rather mixed as reviews go, somewhere between encouraging and constructively critical, with far more positive than negative. I’m still new to writing and publishing and books, and I know the general position is that one shouldn’t discuss, much less respond, to reviews, so I think I’ll refrain. Overall, while she seemed to have major aesthetic issues with my style, she still seemed to enjoy the read and ultimately rated the collection as a whole a 7 out of 10 (which puts it above average so far as POD People reviews go, if narrowly), and she specifically cites six pieces that she enjoyed.

One thing she’s brought up, both in the reviews and in some correspondence with me, is:

there is always reason to re-evaluate the work. And as we mature as writers, re-evaluation is a necessary evil.

Which is true in some ways, I think, but I wonder about in others. Now that it’s a year and a half later, I’ve considered making more explicit certain reasons for certain choices I’ve made: the cover for one (Gardner hated it, but it’s often one of the first thing reviewers or readers tell me they liked about it), as well as some of the content. And there is a point that, a year and a half later, and now with a Master’s degree under my belt, I think I’ve gained a little more objectivity about my writing–I’m certainly better at it, I know that, which is nice considering all the time, effort, energy, and money I invested in the past few years alone. I’d have to reread the afterword to see if there’s anything new I might say about the work, but I’ve certainly learned a lot through the book that I obviously couldn’t before I put it out there.

One specific choice I’ll note now is that, while I might re-evaluate the work, I won’t, as Cheryl suggests I might, revisit it; Entrekin is not perfect, certainly (there are a few typos, for one), but then again, what is? In the past year, however, I’ve come to look at it as a sort of chronicle of a place I was and experiences I had, nearly a record of sorts, and as such, I’ve come to see it for what it is; a book that closes a period of my life. If I revisit any of the themes that appear in it (I think I probably do, in The Prodigal Hour), I will do so in other stories (and there’s a huge change right there: when I first published my collection, my novel was tentatively titled A Different Tomorrow).

As for talking about a lot of it and discussing the review, I’m not certain. Hemingway I think said: “Fuck ’em all; let ’em think you were born knowing how to write.” Then again, one of the reasons I’ve always said I blog is to show the nuts and bolts of things in ways that haven’t been seen before.

What do you think?

Anyway, this was just mainly to note the review and allowed me to note some things I’d wanted to. Like I said, the review’s a bit mixed, but why take someone else’s word for it, anyway? You can still download it as a free digital file readable not just on any computer but even on iPhones and certain other .pdf capable smart phones, so why not make up your own mind about it?

And if you like it, tell a friend. Heck, if you like it, buy a copy for one.

2 thoughts on “On Entrekin, reviews, and response

  1. CHERYL ANNE GARDNER

    I do have to comment on the classy way you handled such a critical review. Yes, it was mixed, my reviews always are. How could a review not be mixed when you yourself admit nothing is perfect. But we should always strive for perfection, just my .02.

    Yes, a 7 rating from me is above average, that would equate to a 4 star on say Amazon. I reserve 8 and 9 for almost flawless editing and boundary pushing. I rarely rate anything a 10, since I am classically influenced and I compare all contemporary work to their classic counterparts when I am evaluating. Might seem overly hard-ass, but I critique my own work much harder, and I try to spare everyone else my standards in that respect.

    I can see your point regarding choosing not to re-evaluate. To leave it as a historical keepsake of your journey is sentimental, and there is nothing wrong with that at all.

    And yes, a review is but one person’s opinion — hopefully a knowledgeable one — but in any event, such opinion may be taken to heart or not. My only goal is that an author walks away from one of my reviews with something of value.

    Good luck to you Will.

  2. WILL ENTREKIN

    @Cheryl: hello, and welcome! I really couldn’t have handled it any other way, I don’t think: you were kind enough to read it and write extensively about it, and flawed as it may be, that I inspired such careful thought, I think, speaks volumes (and perhaps as much as the review itself). I really appreciate the attention, especially as I noted, yesterday, I know how long the blog’s review queue is and what demand you’re in. So thanks on all sides.


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