Ramble About Retribution

I’m up and around today.  I look like I shouldn’t be– or better yet, like maybe I should be buried deep somewhere under impenetrable rock, but I’m up.  Actually, I think I’ll feel well enough to go to my writer’s meeting tomorrow.  In the past, I would have just skipped it, but I’ve found a new enthusiasm in going. 

(Think it has anything to do with the fact that I AM writing and working toward submitting book length fiction again? <g>) 

I did nothing but lie in my bed yesterday, nap and watch strange movies, including one Korean film called 3-Iron that I found somewhat hypnotic.  There were incredibly long periods of complete silence.  In fact, the two main characters never once spoke to each other, but there was such a beautiful connection between them, it kept me riveted.  Funny thing, I can’t decide whether I liked the ending or not.  It was purposely left  open for interpretation– a popular Korean cinema practice– and one I sometimes like and sometimes find frustrating.  In this case, it left me wondering.   


This is Clyde from my story, Retribution. 

For some reason, it also made me think about my story Retribution that came out in Surreal Magazine last year.  I didn’t have a lot of dialogue in that piece and it was written to be a surreal, moody piece kind of like the old Lovecraft and Poe styles.  I also let the reader interpret the end.  I received interesting emails from people who wrote to tell me what they thought it meant.  To me, the meaning was simple, but others read so much more into it.

Last year, when this story came out, I serial Googled myself.  I wanted to know anything said about it.  This was one of my stories I actually liked, one that had won a pretty big award–one that had received the most wonderful letter from an editor.  Ever.  I had confidence in it.

Then I stumbled upon the reviews.  I don’t think I received any good ones.  I received emails from people who liked it, but no published good reviews. 

For someone whose lack of confidence in her work paralyzed her in the past, I really had a hard time with them at first.  After three of them, I got used to it.  (Yeah, right… and I’m the real father of Anna Nicole’s baby.)  But seriously, I am okay with them now. 

Truth is, I learned that I could throw my work out there, get a negative response… and the world wouldn’t end. 

I’m still writing.  Imagine that? 

The only thing I wish the reviews hadn’t done was change my view of this particular story.  Where before I had confidence in it, the pointed failings made me doubt it.  Yes, I used an old narrative style and it could have used more dialogue.  Yes, there were parts where I “told” more than showed.  This story just seemed the type for that sort of thing. 

What I didn’t like was one forum conversation I stumbled upon where someone said I needed to take some classes to learn the difference.  I wanted to jump in and defend myself and the piece, wanted to say I do know the difference and couldn’t they tell that I had purposely done it this way.

Then, I did come across someone who got it.  I don’t who they are, but they said it was obvious I’d crafted the story in that old style.  I would have sent them a Snarky store thank you had I been able to find them. <g>

Okay, I have a point.  Thing is, once the story is out there and published–it’s done.  You can’t go back and “fix” the problem areas, you have to stand confident in your work and if you want, take note of the ‘good’ criticism and work on that area in your next piece.  I’m certainly not the only writer I know who had work publicly ripped to shreds.  I won’t be the last.  There is absolutely no way to write a story that pleases every single person.  And this is a good thing. 

It means that there will always be at least one person out there who does like your writing.  heh heh


About Rinda Elliott

Writer.I love unusual stories and credit growing up in a family of curious life-lovers who moved all over the country. Books and movies full of fantasy, science fiction and romance kept us amused, especially in some of the stranger places. For years, I tried to separate my darker side with my humorous and romantic one. I published short fiction, but things really started happening when I gave in and mixed it up. When not lost in fiction, I love making wine, collecting music, gaming and spending time with my husband and two children. I’m represented by Miriam Kriss of the Irene Goodman Agency.
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6 Responses to Ramble About Retribution

  1. Well, I really enjoyed reading Retribution. Pfthhh on the meanies. 🙂

  2. I haven’t read it. Pffthhh on me…

    It is so unvelievably easy to rip apart a piece of work. Just come at it from an angle that allows for it…

    Hemingway– mundane prose…

    Faulkner– far far too contrived and gimmicky…

    Tolstoy– Too verbose…

    Kundera– too much philosophical lightness of being…

    Vonnegut– too trendy and now dated

    Pynchon– far too cryptic and hard to follow

    Poe— too dark…

    Joyce– Run on sentences??? Cough cough…

    Anyway, I’ll run out of my lunch hour if I continue.

    My point is that the rippers and shredders are everywhere.

    It’s the expedient path to a percieved loftiness…

  3. carol says:

    Besides, it was a great story and well crafted and I’m not the least bit prejudiced, remember, I didn’t know it was yours when it won. Glad you’re feeling better.

  4. sniv says:

    RE: Scott from Oregon’s comment – I’ve met people who’ve said those very things about Tolstoy, Faulkner, Joyce and Vonnegut. There is also a mass of people who think Austen is frivolous and shallow. It makes me sad in my heart.

    Rinda, this is the way I look at things: If I could please everyone, I’d run for president. 🙂

  5. X. Dell says:

    As a songwriter, I lived by a very simple credo. If they don’t like my music, they can make their own music, or shut up (although I used much stronger language in saying that).

    Critics aren’t gods, or all knowing. Some of the ones I come across seem only interested in indulging in their own overinflated sense of omniscience.

    Whatever the case, I wouldn’t take what they have to say seriously. The story may surface again, or it may not. Others might go back to view it one day after reading something else you’ve done, and enjoy it.

    I’ve lived long enough to see some of my harshest critics proven silly, if not wrong. I’m sure you’ll have one of those days too, dawg.

  6. relliott4 says:

    X… have you been watching American Idol? LOL!

    Carol, I still like the story– but it isn’t a popular style these days and even I usually prefer a more active story.

    Perceived Loftiness– I like that.

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