Sunday, February 1, 2015

What does one do when ROSKILL gets a bad review?

Today I read a review, written by Mark Weston, in the PPTA NEWS (VOLUME 35. Number 10 November/December 2014), a school guidance counsellor from a secondary school in the South Island of New Zealand. His review was damming to say the least. I agree with him about the editing issues, around spelling and grammar; issues that should have been ‘fixed’ during the production phase. To a degree, I also agree that the story is maybe too fast in the constant barrage of scenarios that the young people in the novel seem to face. He (Mark) believes that young readers would fail to engage because of this and other ‘qualities.’ It is at this point that I believe we differ. I have seen another review that is closely aligned to this one and it can be found online. Whilst I can ‘fix’ some of the S and G issues, via more work from proof-readers, I would not change the style of the book. Many young people in Mt Roskill and other parts of Auckland have read the book, along with a fair number of adults. Of course there must have been those who did not enjoy, engage or agree with some of the ‘outcomes,’ that the characters faced. I suspect that they simply stopped reading Roskill and consigned it to the same place I use, for books that don’t meet with my expectations. There were many others who did engage and reported their ‘enjoyment’ to me. I take any positive feedback from people who know me well in a light that ‘understands that they may not wish to offend me.’ It is the random comments and reviews from people who just want a good read that have propelled me to keep pushing Roskill, however I take aboard the critique that Mark offers and have come to the conclusion that, Roskill does not measure up to the standards and expectations of those in positions to decide what our young people should read, or enjoy reading. Writing Roskill was a ‘journey;’ that I needed to pursue; that it hasn’t quite worked out from the perspective of some, leads me to try something new. I am not so sure that it is ‘writing’ at this stage. To those who have supported me through this process, I thank. If Roskill made a young person think about the world of drugs and other ‘temptations,’ then that is good. To other aspiring writers I say---give it a go; make sure you have excellent support re editing, proofreading, design and publicity. Be prepared to pay a great deal if you wish to cover the necessary bases and if you are lucky—you may even avoid those costs by convincing a ‘publishing house’ to do all of the above, except the actual writing of the book, for you. Now---where to from here?

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