Monday, June 21, 2010

An "AttaGirl" for The Mermaid Shawl!

One of the first things any writer has to accept is that once their book is in the public eye you will get criticism. There is an old axiom that no matter how many "atta girls" you get from people who like what you do, one "you suck" can wipe all of them out. It's true too. Despite the fact that of the people who have taken the time to review any of my books the vast majority have been favorable, there have been negative reviews and, like anyone who puts herself out there for public scrutiny, it's hard to take. 

I remember when I took a workshop with Julia Cameron some years back she told a story about her ex-husband Martin Scorsese. He had just had a failure with a project and she called him up to offer her sympathies and ask how he was doing. While they were talking she asked, "How do you handle rejection?" and he replied, "Mostly I sit in a chair and sulk." So, if the brilliant Martin Scorsese can sulk, who are we not to follow suit?

Some months ago someone named Carolyn Headon posted a very critical review of my book The Mermaid Shawl & other Beauties on Amazon. I admit I was a little miffed especially because a few of the things she said were completely untrue. For several of the shawls I DO give exact yardages. Plus she used her review of my book as an opportunity to promote someone else's book, which makes one a little suspicious.

Now, I don't check my Amazon book pages all that often so I sometimes miss it when a new review is posted which is why it has taken me a few weeks to see the rebuttal comment posted to Ms. Headon's review. This was posted on May 25 by someone named Patricia A Martinez. Let me say I don't know either of these women but I loved and very much appreciated Ms. Martinez's comments. She really caught the spirit of the book. She wrote:

The book /does/ make a point of explaining that it is for teaching the knitter to make changes, improvise, change things around, and learn to modify. If I want precise yarn amounts, I reference Ravelry. If I want to make beautiful shawls, I go to this book. A middle road between something like /Crazy Lace/, with it's disregard for pattern entirely, and /A Gathering of Lace/, with it's follow-these-instructions-exactly traditional route, This book is one where the author is not afraid to be honest, thrifty, and a teacher. And teachers often have to give students that little nudge into the deep end. I, personally, enjoyed that she admitted to her yarn source (and was not afraid to include the item because of that source! Many designers are.), adhered to the copyright of others, included inspiring work, and gave that little push toward improvisation and modification.

I agree that if you want hand-holding through the pattern, you should go elsewhere. However, this book never claims to do that. 

So thank you very much, Ms. Martinez, wherever you are. Not only did you understand the point of the book but you made me feel very, very good. Bless you.

Thanks for reading.


  1. I spend a lot of time thinking about criticism and people's responses to it. I am working with a client right now who simply doesn't hear it. I think she could be pelted with raw eggs and firmly believe that it was a show of appreciation.

    I fall into the Scorcese sulking category myself, and spend valuable time and energy plotting rebuttals and revenge.

  2. It's a challenge sometimes. Coincidentally I have a client who HIRED me to critique her work but whenever I make a suggestion she goes into a long explanation of why she is right and I am wrong.... sigh.

    She should have saved her money.


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