Now and again we reach back into the TKZ archives for some timeless advice and offer them to you for discussion. Please reply, riff, or rant in the comments and interact with each other!
Today, we have discussions on violence and desensitization, reading reviews, and messy desks. Here’s to a spirited discussion.
In movies, books and television, I wonder sometimes if the downplayed violence–the off-screen murder that drives the meat of the plot–isn’t more of a disservice to society than their counterparts which take you and your senses into the true horror that violent crime inflicts. The dead butler in the library didn’t just arrive there to provide a puzzle for our sleuth to solve. He was a person whose last moments were anguished and wracked with agony. I’m not sure it’s good that the likes of Miss Marple, Jessica and Hercule are so able to push that aside.
Obviously, tastes vary. I respect that different forms of suspense attract different readers, but when it comes to desensitizing people to violence, I do wonder which form erodes the social fabric more. Or, as an alternative, does fiction have a measurable impact at all on such real-life sensitivities? What do you think? What are your violence thresholds? – John Gilstrap, January 2010
I know this is going to sound counter-intuitive, and for many authors, nearly impossible, but here’s my advice: don’t read your reviews, ever. Turn off that Google alert. Skip the Amazon reviews section. Ignore your GoodReads ratings. And if you must know what a blogger or traditional media reviewer is saying about your book, enlist someone you trust to skim the contents and give you the highlights.
This applies not only to negative reviews, but positive ones. Because here’s the thing. As we all know, a reader’s opinion of a book is enormously subjective. The way they approach a story can vary at different points in their lives, or even their day. They read things into it that you might never have intended–and they’re all going to have vastly different opinions about what worked and what didn’t. – Joe Moore, January 2013
I was pleased to read that this phenomenon is borne out in a book called The Perfect Mess by Dave Freedman and Eric Abrahamson which contends that those with cluttered, messy desks are often more efficient and creative than their neatnik brethren. Since my desk always looks like a disaster zone, I think I am going to stick with the Freedman/Abrahamson interpretation…but nonetheless I have to wonder whether most writers are like me – or whether I am just deluding myself that disorder is merely a sign of a great author in the making.
So, what about my fellow writers? Do you, like me, have a messy desk full of piles of paper or are you a neat freak with everything organized and de-cluttered for the sake of productivity and sanity? What do you think, is a messy desk a sign of creativity or just plain slovenliness? – Clare Langley-Hawthorne, February 2011
I will respond to comments this morning. This afternoon I will be away from my computer for a family gathering, and I will respond to your comments later this evening.
Morning, Steve. I couldn’t begin to agree more with Joe Moore, and his quote is among the best I’ve seen:
“As we all know, a reader’s opinion of a book is enormously subjective. The way they approach a story can vary at different points in their lives, or even their day. They read things into it that you might never have intended–and they’re all going to have vastly different opinions about what worked and what didn’t.”
I’ve never seen it expressed better. This is why I also recommend not reading reviews (and don’t myself), and it’s exactly the same reason I recommend writers never invite critique of their fiction.
Morning, Harvey. Thanks for your comments on whether or not to read reviews. I’m betting that subject will bring the most “discussion” to the table today. I’m undecided at this point. I look forward to “being convinced” with today’s discussion. I do have to say that I find beta readers’ reviews very helpful, since I write teen fiction and it’s been many moons since I’ve been around teens.
Thanks for stopping by.
Yes, I know another writer who invited a sailing friend to critique the technical details about sailboats and sailing in her novel. Nothing at all wrong with that, and in so doing she isn’t undermining her own confidence as a writer. Researching technical details, whether of sailboats, weaponry, or current teen idioms etc. is not the same thing as inviting critique of the writing/storytelling itself.
Good point, Harvey. Thanks for pointing that out.
Thanks for three vastly different but interesting topics, Steve.
I agree with most of John’s take on violence in fiction except I think there’s more desensitization due to visual media–gory video games, movies, news footage–than the written word.
My threshold is animal abuse. The horse’s head in The Godfather disturbed me more than all the human killings put together.
As much as I admire Joe, I disagree on reviews. I think a lot can be learned from them as long as they’re written by book buyers–the real market–not paid review services and bots.
Like Clare, my dining table is full of paper piles and references b/c I work on several different projects at the same time. It looks messy but I know what’s in each pile. \When I have to clean up b/c guests are coming for a meal, aargh!
Pets, kids, and the truly innocent. In most mysteries, the victims are predators themselves, and their deaths are understandable if not deserved.
Good morning, Debbie. You’re up early this morning. Thanks for your comments.
I’m really looking forward to the comments on Clare’s messy desk thesis. I’m with you and Clare on the messy desk. Mine is a disaster, and, like you, it is organized by piles. Many times those piles are graced with a folder on top and a name for the pile. And I like you, I spread out my “organization” onto as many tables and desks as I can hijack. The definition of “gas” in physics is “a substance that will spread out and fill the container in which it is confined.” And that is my MO.
Thanks, and I hope your weekend is wonderful.
My desk is still messy and so is my painting space! Looks like any creative endeavor I attempt requires mess 😬
Clare, thanks for stopping by today. We’re getting a lot of defense for your position of a positive correlation between disorder and creativity. There are some wonderful analogies for their desks, too – from kudzu to landfills.
The word “gas” itself was due to a scientist’s inability to properly pronounce “chaos,” which is the very word I was going to apply to my workspace.
Very interesting story, J. And how appropriate for the word to describe the creative’s work space.
Thanks for the information.
The question, though pertinent, can only arise from a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of fiction and of art, more broadly.
The goal of art is aesthetic, or aesthetic emotion. The role of art isn’t to educate soceity at large, reform society at large, serve as a mere tool for social, political, philosophical or religious proselytizing. We’ve got that covered already. We have sociology, politics, philosophy, activism and religion specifically and explicitly for that.
Art is an end in and of itself. It is not second-rate second-hand politics. It would be what is known as a category error to mistake the two.
And to all the inevitable and predictable counter-examples, from Les Misérables, to 1984, to all the engagé writers and novels from the 19g0s to present day, I say they succeeded, or failed, not because of a particular worldview, not because of charitable motives or noble intentions, but because of artistic merit. That they happened to have a real world point you might disagree or agree with is borderline irrelevant.
In short, judge art byits artistic merit, not on some vague and undemonstrated notion of what kind of impact, deemed desirable or objectionable, it might have on society.
The use of explicit, graphic violence in fiction is to be left to aesthetic discretion alone, not to well-meaning ideas of what society supposedly needs at this point in time.
Thanks for your comments, NR, and adding to the discussion.
We appreciate your participation.
The flaw in “art for art’s sake” in all fiction is that literary fiction is about the esthetic, popular fiction like mysteries almost never is.
Popular genre with just a few outliers is moral fiction. Good vs. evil. Love vs. selfishness. The community vs the killer. Etc., etc. I need to get outside before it hits the mid-nineties so I’ll post a few links to argue this point.
Good points, Marilyn. Thanks for the links.
@Marilynn Byerly ,
I think the mistake you might be incurring in is your arbitrary restriction of what aestehtics is and its juxtaposition with genre. If commercial fiction merely were a dramatization of morality, there would hardly be a sustained need for it, given how so many other human endeavours already deal with the topic far more adequately.
Humans have aesthetic cravings that need to be addressed and satisfied. The aesthetic impulse is by no means exclusive or even predominant in so-called literary ficiton. I would go as far as claiming it’s not even characteristic of literary fiction.
I beg to differ. Good luck selling aesthetic popular fiction. It will be an uphill battle.
I’ve always believed that, if you have an ultimate purpose (even developing empathy for a particular group) in your fiction, it has to be the best possible fiction – because people hate being preached to.
And the subtext has to be woven in with particular skill and care so it never overpowers the story and its merit as art.
But NOT including purpose makes the fiction mere entertainment – and we already have enough of that. Easy example: To Kill a Mockingbird. Or Black Beauty.
Thanks for participating in the discussion, Alicia.
Fine description of the balance between subtext (theme, hidden message) and story. It’s a fine line to walk.
Hope you come back and visit us at TKZ again.
RE: Violence & desensitization: To me, a person with common sense and a good heart knows that violence/death is terrible. If they don’t have common sense and at least a heart toward the good, no amount of detailed violence is going to sway them. Write real enough to convey the emotion/trauma? Of course. But I have found in both modern fiction and film what feels to me like a compulsion to glorify the violence. It doesn’t read/watch like they’re trying to teach society about the evils of violence, rather that they revel in displaying it. And at least for this reader/viewer, it turns me away from their work. Granted, some genres are intended to be dark/violent, but I’m not their target market.
RE: Not reading your reviews: I remember reading this post when Joe Moore did it and I vowed to adopt this method when I get published. Not that it won’t be extremely hard not to read your own reviews, but there is such wisdom in having someone else synthesize your reviews and give you a summary. Great advice!
RE: Messy/Orderly Desk: I haven’t noticed a correlation one way or the other between neat/messy desks and creativity. I am neither. All I can say is that when you work in a small space, that impairs creativity, because you can’t get to things quickly and easily as you write (i.e. having to pile books instead of having them neatly in rows on a shelf where you can refer to them quickly).
Concerning creative productivity, the challenge for me is ELECTRONIC files—on the one hand, creating several individual files on topics related to your writing seems neat and orderly, but after a while you have so many e-files it bogs you down. But keeping everything in 1 or 2 documents seems awkward too. I’m still learning. Last night I was creating some files associated with a book and was disgusted to learn that Google docs no longer makes the “bookmark” feature available which helped you quickly and easily link and go to sections in a document. Time for plan B.
Sorry, BK. See my comment below.
Good morning, Steve. Three fascinating nuggets from the TKZ archives.
John has a real point, but as a fan of traditional and cozy mysteries, I see them as escape. Death is omnipresent in our world, though for the vast majority of us, out of sight, unless we live in a war zone or a place with a high murder rate. However, to me, the murder itself (be it violent assault, shooting, poisoning or something else) obviously resonates throughout the story world of the cozy. I don’t feel like avoiding the stark reality of the murder by not showing it desensitizes us to the violence. If anything, seeing violence in stark detail, repeatedly can, which is one reason why I don’t watch ultra violent movies or shows, or read ultraviolet books any more.
Joe Moore’s point on reviews is a good one. If you are able to detach yourself from your feelings and ego, you can mine some information from them, but even the good ones set you up both to want to do more of the same thing in your fiction that got the good review, and influence how you view your own work. It’s a tricky balance.
Semi-organized mild chaos describes my writing space.
Have a wonderful weekend!
Good points, Dale. I hope John will weigh in this morning. I wonder if his opinion has changed since 2010. And, he did say he “wondered.” It’s a good topic for a spirited argument.
I hope your weekend is wonderful. too.
Dale, you hit on something I wonder about–if a bunch of rave reviews can lead an author to “more of the same” to the detriment of trying anything new–i.e. becoming complacent with where they are in their writing. But then again, there’s the ole “if ain’t it broke don’t fix it” too.
I agree with John. Hence why I don’t sugarcoat violence in my books. Crime, and especially murder, is devastating. But like Debbie mentioned, I draw the line at animal abuse.
Joe gave excellent advice. It’s not an easy thing to do, but I’ve never read a “helpful” 1 or 2 star review of any product. On the flip-side, glowing reviews can lift an author’s spirits when that little inner voice is screaming, “You suck.”
Lastly, my desk is a mess. Always. I moved into my nice weather office last Monday morning. By the afternoon, I had stuff everywhere.
Thanks for your responses to the archive subjects, Sue.
I do agree with you that glowing reviews can sometimes be the lift we need to charge back in with confidence.
Glad we have another vote for the messy desk. I would like to take the argument, I mean thesis, one more step and quantitate it. The more the mess, the more the creativity. Now, where’s my thesaurus. I put it on my desk somewhere.
Have a great weekend!
I always look at the “negative” reviews before I purchase non-book type items. If a bunch of people say the coffee maker I’m considering fell apart after three uses, or the shoes run three sizes small, then I don’t buy. Unlike ‘art’ it’s much easier and more helpful when defects can be specified.
For everyday products I’m more apt to read the negative reviews, Terry, but still with a healthy dose of skepticism. Some people like to be nasty to feel superior. So, unless the reviews states exactly what’s wrong with the product, or why they didn’t like it, I disregard the review. Some of my favorite novels by big-named authors had brutal, hateful, and unwarranted reviews.
Thanks, BK, for weighing in. Good comments.
My recollection is that you are involved in other creative endeavors, besides writing. I like to have space to spread out for each project – woodshop, mechanical area, etc. I would argue that spreading out and having each project “at the ready” is more efficient. How many typewriters did Asimov use?
I hope your weekend is a good one.
Thanks for the clips, Steve. I’m with Joe Moore on the reviews. I have never learned anything helpful from a negative review. I do make one exception. Every now and again, when I need a jolt of encouragement, I’ll read a few of the 5 stars. But just a few. It’s like vitamins…they’re good for you, but you can take too many.
My comfort zone re:violence, sexuality, and language is this: I write like a 1940s film noir, meaning those things can be expressed implicitly, not gratuitously, and the story loses nothing.
My desk is like Kudzu. I can clean it up, but invariably the mess grows back. I still manage to find things, but it takes awhile…
Thanks, Jim. Your idea for these TKZ Words of Wisdom posts seems to be a hit. I had more than a few people tell me that it didn’t feel quite right when I didn’t respond to any posts, so I’ll comment when I’m able to, and leave a promise to respond later when I’m at a family activity.
In regard to the Kudzu. The second law of thermodynamics states that all systems tend toward greater entropy (disorder). My brother posted a sign on his bedroom door: “This room obeys the second law of thermodynamics.” I guess I should put up a similar sign on my office door.
I hope you have a Kudzu-free weekend.
Good morning, Steve. Thanks for the intellectual buffet to start the day.
Violence: I’m with Debbie, and let me add physical harm to young children.
Reading reviews: I concur with TKZ’s other Sweet Joseph. My exception: if someone who knows and likes/loves you says, “Readin so-and-so’s review of your book! It’s excellent.”
Cluttered desks: I think it depends solely on the individual. Some people function better in order, others when their surroundings look like the before picture of an archeological dig. Do what works.
Enjoy your activities with your family this afternoon and have a great weekend!
Thanks, Joe. Great comments, all. Can’t argue with any of them.
Regarding the cluttered desk: I like to have things clean and tidy, I just don’t want to take the time away from creative endeavors to do the clean up. There just isn’t enough time to do it all.
Have a great weekend!
Very interesting John Gilstrap comment today—something I was tinker in my head with a few months back.
My thoughts on the issue stemmed from James Scott Bell who also said your antagonist cannot be “ALL” evil. I’m sure we’ve all seen other general comments from writing coaches about grounding your novel in the real world and ensuring you have backstory for all your character—which is a no brainer.
Hence your characters are born, lived their lives but maybe some didn’t get to live to their own fulfilled third act. Therefore, the victims and aggressors in your novel are people and need to be treated as people. That’s what I like about Dan Brown. I admire the care he puts into character development, even his more aggressive characters are motivated by circumstance.
Before you blast me out of the water—yes, Dan Brown does go way out into left field with technology and with an ideological point of view that’s laughable. And yes, he builds a case that everything in his book is real/true and lacks a defense to make such claims. But I love his bad guys. Can’t help myself.
I also love those kinds of treatment in Gilstrap’s Johnathan Grave Series. Makes for an interesting ride.
Good morning, Ben. Great comments, and worthy of an entire post and discussion.
Someone here at TKZ, I think, mentioned that Dean Koontz spends a lot of time developing his villains and shows why they have become motivated to commit such horrible things. I decided to look for his book, How to Write Best Selling Fiction (out of print), and found it in the Ohio library system. I haven’t got to that chapter yet, but am enjoying the book.
Thanks for your comments!
Interesting comment about Dan Brown’s characters. At a writer’s conference years ago (I think it was when only his first book was out), in almost every panel/workshop his was the example of “Good story, but I could have written it better.” And “You could drop a piano on any of his characters and it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.”
Since it’s been years since I read any of his books, I’m in no position to offer an intelligent informed opinion; just passing on what happened at that conference.
I suggest having another look. His characters have reasons for what they’re doing. They all have rich backgrounds and are deeply motivated which I drives the plot.
To me, that conference sounds like a case of jealous authors piling on and attacking someone not in the room.
Most mysteries are about a murder and its solution, but what the reader wants from the book varies wildly. The cozy mystery where the murder is off-page or the body isn’t gory are more about community than the details of the murder. Miss Marple understands human interaction, and she knows her tiny community. More recent cozies have someone new to the community or an outcast of the community who builds their connection to people through the series. Finding the killer is as much about healing the community and the amateur detective as it is about finding the killer.
Thanks, Marilynn. Nicely put. There are as many expectations of the book as there are readers. We’re all different, and we all want different things.
I didn’t expect that we would have agreement on any of the three topics today. In fact, I picked them to (hopefully) stimulate a spirited debate.
Thanks for sharing your knowledge and understanding of literature. Always appreciated!
“There are as many expectations of the book as there are readers. We’re all different, and we all want different things.”
Yes. Exactly what I was saying earlier. If only we all could apply such an austere, striking truth to the weight we give reviews and critiques.
Good questions, Steve. I pay attention to reviews by experienced reviewers, but I ignore many amateurs. Some complain the price of the book is too high. Nothing I can do about that.
As for my desk, it looks like a landfill.
Thanks for your comments and thoughts, Elaine. I like the way you decide what reviews to read, experienced reviewers. Great recommendation.
And your description of your desk is the best one today. I couldn’t help bursting out laughing. That description suddenly made me see my desk in that analogy. It’s the moving assembly line where the gloved pickers are pulling out things to be recycled, before anything has been picked.
Don’t get buried in any avalanches at your desk.
Violence: I don’t know that it numbs readers. There’s a limit as to how much I want to read. A recent read for book club that took place during the Civil War went on and on and on and on about the conditions on the battlefield, and it was just too much.
A current book is set in London during WWII and there are graphic descriptions of the aftermath of one bombing raid, but nothing I’ve read has ‘sanitized’ killing for me. I’m a product of the Summer of Love …
Reviews: I did learn something when a reader pointed out that a character had left the state yet showed up at a briefing. Changed that right quick. But since my opinion of books I’m reading often is in ‘disagreement’ with others, I know no book will create the same reaction in every reader. I did like this comment on my FB page, though:
Just finished Trusting Uncertainty! CAN’T wait for Cruising Undercover. Good luck in the final stages:) I hope this series continues. It has been by favorite! I love how the “retired” team members or featured team members from previous books have made appearances in the later books.
Timely comment for me, as I’d been debating whether a “retired” character should appear in the role I’d chosen for him (disclosure: I’d forgotten he’d retired, and when I looked back at previous book summaries and realized his role had changed, I wasn’t sure he was the right character for the job. But that comment showed me readers like seeing old friends.
And the desk issue. I have a housekeeper once a week, which is the only reason my desk isn’t a total disaster area. Now, if I could organize instead of just moving things around to give her room to work ….
Thanks, Terry. Great comments.
I’m with you on violence. And everyone is different. I have a relative who loves movies with graphic violence. I can’t take 5 minutes of what he watches.
Book reviews: We all need some positive reinforcement. Beta readers who don’t know me are helpful in the two situations you mentioned.
And the desk issue; I don’t think a housekeeper would even agree to come into my office until they knew that I had workman’s comp insurance.
I hope you have a good weekend.
I’m a bit late to the party. I just joined a nearby outdoor shooting range, and I had to attend the orientation session to get my range officer card. Now, I can go blast holes in paper or make steel targets sing whenever I want. Life is good.
Wow, my piece was from ten years ago? My, how time flies. I don’t remember what led to my writing that, but My opinion has not changed. I don’t believe in rubbing readers’ noses in ugly stuff, but I do believe that violence is three dimensional and that it smells bad. It’s sticky. But once presented, it’s time to move on and progress with the rest of the story.
I read all my reviews, I have have learned from some of the negative ones. Negative reviews are what led me to clean up some of the language in my books. I didn’t realize that so many people could find offense in something as harmless as a word, yet here we are in 2022, with all the craziness that surrounds us.
As for a clean desk, I have a breaking point. I can deal with clutter . . . until I can’t. And then I go on a cleaning binge.
Thanks for weighing in, John. Yeah, we’re searching through the archives, looking for gold (and topics that might stir discussion).
I like the way you state your approach to presenting violence. It makes sense.
Enjoy that shooting range!
I’m one of those readers who would prefer not to read about the violence or for it to not be too graphic. As for reviews, I don’t read them at all. Occasionally a reader will email me when I’ve made an error in a book, and I always email them back, thanking them for pointing it out. Then I forward the email to my editors for them to fix it. Then there was the one reader who emailed me with a list of comma errors and such. That one I deleted. 🙂
As for a messy desk…the guy I’ve been dating for 24 years commented early on in our relationship the following: He said, “I’ve read that a person who can stand clutter is well-adjusted, and you are very well adjusted.” So you know how I stand on messiness.
Thanks for stopping by, Patricia. Always enjoy your comments.
Oh, the comma errors, that could be a topic for an entire TKZ post (and probably a boring one).
I’m glad that you’re well adjusted. I am too. And I’m going to tell my wife so at lunch.
Have a well adjusted weekend.
Great discussion, Steve! I love it when we round-table and there’s no rules . . . reminds me of the discussions my parents presided over at the dinner table. The only 2 rules were: no yelling, and respect each other. With four kids, that was sometimes difficult.
I have a violence threshold. Also a language one.
If I hear *foul* language over and over again in the first 10 minutes or so of a movie, I movie on.
I can take a bit of violence, but cringe if it’s a woman being *** or a child being abused. I watched a movie once where there were children in cages being auctioned off to the highest bidders. I couldn’t take the handcuffs, the snotty noses, the fear in their eyes, and watching them being dragged away by filthy scumbags dressed in business suits. I know stuff like that goes on in our world, but knowing it is enough. I don’t like to watch it.
Reviews: never look. Don’t have enough to worry about anyway.
Desk: I am a confirmed neat freak. However, I have a drawer. If the small piles of paper annoy me, they get swept away.
Have a great weekend, all.
Thanks for stopping by, Deb.
I grew up in a family of five, and our supper discussions were always lively, especially when my sister (the rebel) got into heated disagreement with my father. More than one after-supper family worship ended with sister yelling and screaming and running up the steps.
I’m with you on the language and the violence. My wife and I avoid those types of movies, and I don’t like books filled with filth.
As for the desk, when you are looking for some extra creative ideas and want the boys in the basement to do their work, try leaving some projects scattered on your desk. Just sayin’.
Have a wonderful weekend
I think that desensitization to violence occurs when there are no consequences to the violence. I’m sure many here remember the action shows of the 70s and 80s, where bullets flew every which way but never hit any of the good guys. Some went so far as to show the person who should have been mangled in an accident crawling out of the car, or the guy in the target building jumping out before it exploded, as if to say, “We know what you saw was terribly violent, but our guys are good guys, so the bad guys don’t actually die.” If there are no consequences to the violence, it’s easy to think it’s no big deal.
As for reviews, that’s not something I have to deal with yet. I do find my critique groups – people whose knowledge I trust – helpful in pointing out problem areas. But there is this interesting writer of “sweary history” named James Fell, who takes the worst reviews he gets and uses them to promote his book. These reviews tend to either focus on his swearing or his politics, which he believes are the reasons most people buy his book. He says his sales always go up when he shares one of those negative reviews.
I used to have a messy desk. However, I had to downsize a few years ago, and my desk is only big enough to hold my computer and a snack. (My coffee has a spot on the bookshelf at my elbow.) But my electronic files are stuffed full, my browser bookmarks are everywhere, and I always have dozens of tabs open. I hope all that’s a sign of creativity, anyway. When I used to work, though, my desk was covered in piles, and people were amazed that I always knew what was in each one. Yes, that must be creativity. Right?
Yes, BJ, that’s creativity. It’s probably the fact that you can have things everywhere, keep track of the files, and pull it all together when you need to. Interesting that it is easier to hide that when it’s all electronic files.
Good point about desensitization and consequences for behavior. There certainly isn’t any of that anymore.
Have a good weekend.
Great discussions, Steve! Although I’m always late to the party on Saturdays, I’m enjoying the Words of Wisdom posts you do.
I’m relieved to hear that messiness correlates with efficiency and creativity. I feel better already. My desk could be declared a federal disaster zone, but I still know where (almost) everything is.
I do read reviews. Of course, I love the five-stars when people tell you the things they liked about the book, but I realize it’s all subjective and try not to assign too much weight to any number of stars.
As far as violence goes, I write cozy mysteries. Enough said.
Thanks for joining the discussion, Kay. You’re never late. Sorry for the delay in my response. I’m an early to bed, early to riser.
I’m happy that the messy desk proponents have prevailed in our quest for creativity. It’s nice, when we feel somewhat deficient, that we can point to others who are in the boat with us.
I’m with you on the violence and reading reviews. We all need positive reinforcement to keep us reassured that our writing is worth reading.
Have a great week!