18 November 2011

Friday Ramblings: Give it to me Straight

This week I had conferences at Queen's school and I've been thinking a lot about my childhood. I went to elementary school back in the '80's in an inner city school that reeked of a cheesy movie of the week. My principal was a black man with a vision who ignored the superintendents and ran his school the way he saw fit. My music teacher was a white guy who played Earth, Wind, and Fire and James Ingram during music class, and was the first person we saw who had one of the original Apple computers that he brought to class and made us buttons on it. I think my button said, I love Michael Jackson. LOL. I'm not on Facebook, but I've learned that both of these teachers are. I learned this fact, because one of my cousins thought it would be funny to send me a god awful picture he snagged from our old principals Facebook page. My old principal was always taking pictures of all us and has literally a million pictures of his days as a principal at my elementary school. Unfortunately. Seriously this picture my awful cousin sent me, has me in a Jheri Curl (God, those should've been outlawed, and why did my mother allow her eight year old child to get a Jheri Curl?), ugly welfare octagon glasses, and this awful sweater that was leather and sweat material. I hate him (my cousin) on principal for sending me that picture and to torture me he said it is now the screen saver on his computer. He also sent me a picture of that. As you can see, the snark comes naturally in my family.

Anyhoo, during my 1st – 8th grade years, the children were segregated (no, I'm not talking about race, my school was actually integrated). We were segregated by intelligence. We had four classes for each grade: the honors class, the smart class, the not so smart class, and the delinquents. Of course all the students knew this. One of the most traumatic experiences in my elementary school days was when I was in second grade. I hated my second grade teacher and she hated me. As a result, in the third grade I went from the honors class to the smart class. Of course in fourth grade I went right back to the honors class, but still, I remember it to this day and get pissed at my second grade teacher all over again. Why yes, I hold grudges.

I'm telling you this, because maybe it would help you understand how I was formed and why I'm so blunt. Because as a child, I always knew where I stood. I knew what I was good at and I knew what I sucked in. I was surprised that when Queen started to school they didn't separate the kids the way I was separated. In Queen's school they mix all the kids together and then in classes where kids need extra help, the kids switch up like it's high school and go to their math and reading classes by level. Really? And when I went to Queen's conferences, I'm hearing all sunshine and daises, and talk like this is the beginning of the school year and it's okay if she's not at this level yet, yada, yada, yada. Seriously? I was trying to prod Queen's teacher to tell me what she sucked in and what she excelled in so that I could help her at home, and was not getting straight answers. Yes, she gave me ideas on how I could help Queen with reading and math, but nothing concrete. I'm sorry, I wanted to know more, where she stood academically compared to the other kids in the class, was she on target, behind, ahead, etc., etc., etc. I was so annoyed.

I think people are so afraid of hurting your feelings nowadays that they are afraid to tell you the freaking truth. I want the freaking truth. Don't be afraid of hurting my feelings. I'm a big girl I can take it. I'm not going to run of and shoot myself or get a whip and force my child to do schoolwork 24/7, as if she'd stand for it. I don't call her Queen for nothing. Anyhoo, tell me where my child sucks donkey doo. It's my child, I live with her, I know she's not perfect, damnit. She just looks like she is.

(Why yes, I know this picture is old and I need to take them to get their pictures taken again. And see why I used to call Prince Chunk, he was six months old in this picture wearing 18 month old clothes.)

This sugarcoating the truth thing is not just with Queen's school. It's everywhere. As you know I am an aspiring writer. I've sent a few things out and gotten rejected by my target publishers. Since those are the publishers I want to publish with I've held back sending more stuff out because I'm trying to figure out what is it about my work that sucks donkey doo doo. I want to work to improve on it, but the feedback I've been given isn't what I would like. It's non-existent. I know that editors do reports before the reject someone stating what about the book they hated and why they wouldn't buy the book. I would love to have that information. Why don't they tell you what about your book sucks? Is it my grammar/craft (most likely, as you haven't noticed by now, my grammar sucks, I'm trying to work on it), characters, plot, etc? Yes, I know that opinions are subjective and what works for one person might not necessarily work for another, but damn it, I'm asking for your opinion that's why I sent my stuff to you. You aren't going to hurt my feelings by giving it to me straight. I'm not going to ever stop writing, because you said that my novel was the worst thing you read all year. I'm not going to send off an angry e-mail over the web stating what an awful person you are for stating your honest opinion. What I am going to do is look at your opinion and either work to improve what you said bothered you or ignore it totally and move on. Because, that's how I roll.

I realize that others don't roll that way. Other people can't handle the truth, but I fell that if you can't handle the truth than you need to stay in your little corner and don't come out in the real world. I'm harsh like that, so sue me. It annoys me that I have to modify my lifestyle because other people are afraid of giving or hearing the truth.

That brings me to reviews and my reviewing style. It drives me crazy when reading a review for a book (even by my on-line buddies) where the reviews are all sunshine and daisy and then at the end the reviewer gives the book four stars, or three stars. Really? If it was so great why did you give it four stars why not five? What was it about the book that made you not give it a five. That's the kinda crap I want to know. As a reviewer are you too busy trying to make friends with authors that you aren't going to give your primary audience, the readers, the truth? Why? Despite what authors think, reviews are for readers not authors. Knowing your truthful opinion about a book would not make me decide to not buy the book. Heck, I've gotten books with one star reviews and loved it, I've gotten books with five star reviews and wondered what crack the person who gave the book a five star was taking when they wrote the review on this book. But, I knew that was their opinion and respected that (even if it was crazy for cocoa puffs – LOL).

I know my stance will never make me popular, especially as a blogger and book reviewer. I've already been blasted a couple times for stating what drove me bat shit crazy about a book I've reviewed. I've been attacked by the Jane Austen Fan Fiction Nazis on Amazon for giving one of their buddies books a one star (I actually found that amusing). I've had authors block me from following them on Twitter after I reviewed their book (one I found amusing, the other hurt me a little bit, because I've liked the authors other works, not just that book). I've had authors not want me to review their books because I'm a little too blunt. But that's okay. I'm a big girl, I have my big girl panties on. I'll survive. But at least you know where you stand with me and I know where I stand with you.

I think the world would be a little more rosy if everyone just said what was on their mind.

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P.S. I'm trying to keep up with blog posts, but National Novel Writing Month is kicking my butt and the kidlets have been sick this week. My reading has been suffering. I promise to do better. And did you see that my blog rating went from PG-13 to Rated R, I blame my Christine Feehan review for that one. LOL!

5 people posted their 2 cents:

JenM said...

Lynette, I really appreciate your honest reviews. I agree completely, that I get so frustrated with these bloggers that will rate something a 3 out 5, but then not say anything bad about the book. Or, even worse, the ones that rate every single book they read as a 4 or a 5. I'm sorry, but that's impossible. Either they are sucking up, or they aren't very discriminating in their tastes.

By the way, I'm not an editor or anything, but I do have a very good grasp of grammar and I'd be happy to read your stuff and give you an honest opinion on it LOL.

Anonymous said...

Your straightforward comments/reviews is the reason I read your blog. Thank you.
And I agree about reviews that does not match their review ratings. It does not help me at all about a book I am considering to read.

Anonymous said...

BTW, good luck with your kids.

Alexis @ Reflections of a Bookaholic said...

I am completely with you. I love honest reviews. Sometimes I worry that it might seem like I'm always harping on something but I'm really not trying to.

As for the schools not giving it to you straight, maybe their expectations are high enough? Maybe you need to tell them the standard they need to have for your Queen :)

I hope you get the feedback you need on your right. I can understand that is sooo frustrating.

Lynette said...

Thank you. I often feel like I'm the mean crazy one, so it's nice to know that I'm not alone. I might take you up on your offer, but right now I'm in furious writing mode which means that everything I'm writing isn't fit for no one's eyes, not even mine half the time. LOL!

The kids are doing fine, thanks for asking. After fighting all morning, they've finally decided to go in Queen's room to play. I hope it'll last for more than five minutes. LOL.

Thanks. I think I need to be more upfront with Queen's school when I have questions and I get dodged answers to let them know what I want instead of staring at them like they're crazy for cocoa puffs.

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"Do you see, Solange, that you are the only woman in my world? The one woman who can choose life or death for me. You are the center of my world and you always will be. When I tell you that your pleasure is mine, I mean that literally"— Christine Feehan



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