Things that make you go hmm…

I’ve always been a big proponent of constructive criticism because it’s the only way to improve. How else can you get better at your attempted task if you don’t ask for feedback? Incidentally, my ability to handle feedback is one of the reasons why I was promoted. Guess what I’m saying is, I don’t take it personally if someone wants to offer constructive criticism because, in my experience, it’s always helped me improve.

So when I received a critical review (1 out of 5 stars), I read it eagerly. At first the reviewer offered valid viewpoints (which I’m already planning to take into account), but then they went off on a tangent which still boggles my mind. They complained that I wrote my novel to express my liberal views, that my characters were simply there to check off YA cliches. She had issues with the names, the fact that I have a black gay character, that I have poor people in foster systems… at that point, I started laughing.

I grew up reading romances but I could never relate to the characters. The protagonists were always white, and beautiful, and never really seemed to struggle financially. I read many Black romances as well, but never really any stories about Indian women, or Arab women, or Asian women finding love. So, as a woman of colour, I wanted to write about other WOC and that’s one of the reasons why I wrote Follow You Down.

It’s funny that having a “quirky” name, and friends who are also poor, or gay – maybe even both! – were things this reviewer objected to. Because these are not YA checklist items; they are, simply put, my reality. When you’re a WOC, you probably have friends who are also people of colour. And, believe it or not, some of these people may be gay, or bisexual, or even transgendered. One of my closest friends is a gay Asian male. He’s his own person with his own unique identity who happens to be Asian, and gay and loves playing hockey and transformers (Hi David!).

Many of my friends and I grew up poor or struggling to make ends meet, because we came from immigrant families. A lot of our names are considered “weird” or “quirky” because they reflect our ethnicity, pride in our heritage. Or you could simply have hippy parents who went to a poet and wanted an unusual name for their kid (yes, this is how I ended up with mine, and, yes, brown people can be hippies). Again,  just because characters are not named “Tom” or “Mary” or “insert any North American common name” doesn’t mean it’s being done to fulfill a checklist item – it’s simply reality for many of us.

In a way I’m glad I received this review because it reaffirmed why I’m writing what I’m writing. I want to tell stories about women of colour – romances featuring women of colour – because we exist, we’re here, and we have every right to read about ourselves and the realities we live even if it’s in something menial like love stories. Weird names, gay friends, struggling with money matters may be cliche items to some, but it’s very real for me.

I’ll write about my reality as much as I want and there isn’t a damn thing anyone can do about it – so bitch away!

 

6 thoughts on “Things that make you go hmm…

  1. I really love your work because your characters are different line you said sone ate whir black gay and straight and they all get along with each other like they don’t see the color of their skin and if they don’t get along us becauseof theirskin color or their sexual preferences. I wish the world would be like that. I can’t wait for the next chapter.

    1. I’m so happy you appreciate my characters. Diversity is so important, even in something like love stories. Young Adult novels have a lot of diversity in them but romances still don’t and I really want to focus on stories about all of us who don’t fall into the traditional North American culture. Anyway, thank you again for reading and supporting me 🙂

  2. I also liked your novel because of that! Because you seem to write about things you know, it’s like telling a very familiar story! Keep up! I am so curious for all of them!

    1. I’m very happy to hear that, Noula. Art (whether it be movies, music, fiction, painting, etc.) has the ability to cross boundaries and unite people. If my work is able to elicit that kind of feeling, even by the smallest measure, I’ll die a happy woman 🙂 Anyway, thank you for reading!

  3. I think you should be proud of yourself and your word, because it had the potential to keep that reviewer reading till the end.

    1. Sadly, no. She stopped reading at 26%. LOL. Anyway, not everyone’s going to like my work and that’s fine. It is what it is 🙂

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