About those critical reviews…


Rivetting… exciting… absorbing… extraordinary!”  That’s the sort of critical review that all writers hope for. They don’t always come our way, but you’ve got to have a dream.

In my salad writing days I  naively believed that all reviewers were benevolent beings who looked kindly on those of us who poured heart and soul onto the printed page. I was sure that their criticism was kindly meant and constructive. Actually, I still believe that a majority of critics are sharp readers and kindly folk, but now I know that those who criticize are also human and that their viewpoints are therefore subjective and  are to be taken with a saltshaker at hand.

Many years ago I met a woman who was a reviewer for an important literary magazine. Still wet around the ears and bubbling with excitement over my new book, I enthused about it to this lady, who eyed me cynically and purred, “Oh, I will be moved, will I?” Her review was scathing and—I still believe—unnecessarily cruel. The fact that A Boat To Nowhere  was well received elsewhere and went on to win a national award made up for the wounds she inflicted, but I never forgot the experience.

So how do we deal with reviewers and reviews? Through the ups and downs of review-reading, I think we all need to keep a level head and to believe that  If we have done our best, that is what counts. If there are lessons to be learned from a negative review, we will learn them. If there is praise that will validate us after all of our hundreds of hours of work, that’s icing on the cake.

The best critics, I think, are not the ones who write for newspapers or literary magazines but the readers themselves. That student who wrote to say he found your book the best he ever read, or the thoughtful questions posed by a teenaged reader … aren’t  those letters priceless? I confess that of all the reviews I have kept, the one I prize most was written from a juvenile detention facility. It began, “Yo, Miss! I hate reeding (sic), but your book reely (sic) wasn’t too bad!” It was signed “Squinty.”

I suspect that we never outgrow some anxiety about reviews. I know I haven’t. Now that my e-book, The Lake Is On Fire, has hit the airways, I have been watching and waiting for some commentary to be posted. And behold, today there they were!

             “This book,” one reviewer began, “has only two important characters – a short-tempered boy and a bad-tempered dog. How they got that way and how they react to the exciting and dangerous events that overtake them makes for an engrossing story with vivid characters and plenty of suspense. I loved it!”

               And another: Once I started it, I couldn’t put it down.

               And again:  Beautifully written, the suspense becomes so riveting that it is next to impossible to lay it down. I highly recommend this book for teens – and for their parents too!

No writer could possibly ask for better reviews!

Words said by others

Who read what we have written…

Do they hurt…or please?

.williams visit april  07 047 (2)


About Maureen C. Wartski

I’m Maureen Wartski, writer, artist, wife, mother, grandmother; you can see that I have many of the bases covered. I was born in Ashiya, Japan, a (then) small town which lay cradled between sea and mountains. In the evenings, we would walk along the road that ran past Osaka Bay, and a great moon would rise out of the water to turn the world to silver. I’m told that my first words were, “Big moon!” All my life I have felt the tug to write something, draw something, put together something with fabric, string and color, and the urge to create has grown through the years. I suppose, then, that it’s a natural thing that this blog be full of the things that so many of you enjoy doing…drawing, making something with fabric, and writing. Yuri's Brush with Magic, my newest book for middle schoolers follows the adventures of a brother and sister, the magic of words, and the incredible magic of the natural world. I'd love to hear from you! You can send me a note at: maureen@wartski.org/ My blog is here: https://maureenwartski.wordpress.com/ Or friend me on Facebook!

6 responses »

  1. Maureen,
    Step One: Give your writing all you’ve got so it will impact readers.

    Remember: Just like some editors will pass on a quality manuscript, some reviewers may write a less-than-complimentary review.

    Step Two: Hang it there.

    Step Three: Repeat steps one and two.

  2. Dear Maureen,
    I always enjoy reading your blog posts. You have a way with words. I also look forward to seeing the pictures you draw and paint for the blog. You have many great talents. I enjoy reaping the benefits of enjoying them. I enjoyed reading Lake Is on Fire. I’m glad that others see your worth as a writer like I do.

    Celebrate you
    Never Give Up
    Joan Y. Edwards

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