Like many writers, I worry — constantly — about the quality of my work. I don’t go fishing for compliments, but it means a lot to me when people say nice things about stuff I’ve written. Reviews from professional-type review people are gratifying, even if they don’t always like my stories; I’m of the school of thought that says apathy is worse than active dislike, because at least with active dislike you get a reaction.
But it’s compliments from readers, of the just-looking-for-entertainment type, that tend to have the greatest impact on me, because that tells me I’m really doing my job as a professional writer. So this one warmed my heart, when editor Rachel Swirsky of PodCastle forwarded it to me:
I recently discovered PodCastle and very much enjoy the series and
your choices. Tonight I started digging through the archives because
I just can’t get enough, found Red Riding Hood’s Child. LOVED it –
and left a comment.
I wanted to thank you personally for including it – not enough stories
out there in which main characters are gay and/or find personal
power… and while I’m at it, to tell you that PodCastle is my new
favorite driving companion.
Am not including identifying info, since the complimenter may not have wanted to be plastered all over teh internets. And I’m not sure which of the comments on the story he’s referring to, though I think I know which one it is. But he has my thanks.
Now, to put this in context, the story in question, “Red Riding-Hood’s Child”, got a very strong reaction from listeners when it went up on PodCastle. A lot of the responses, I have to say, struck me as — hmm. Homophobically-derived? It’s one thing to dislike the story, but another thing entirely to declaim it as “gross” and “criminal” and… well, just read the reactions for yourself. (Don’t forget the ones in the discussion forum.) Overall, I’d say the reaction was mostly positive, but the negatives were really negative.
But some of the positive responses, like the one above, were enough to make all the negatives fade into nothing in my head.
This is what I do it for. This is why I take risks, as I did in writing RRHC; this is why I need to take more risks, IMO. (And this is why I’m glad for markets that are willing to take risks, like PodCastle.) This makes me very, very happy.