The Five Stages of (Review) Grief.


Our goal here is to discuss, not to review, but reviews are on my mind. I’m going to tell you where to read my novella. I don’t have to know if you read it. (No pressure of any kind.) Anyone who is curious, it’s up. I am going to take another look at the first few chapters, but the rest is pretty well set. The plot dissolves into speculation at the end; this is a teaser for Book One.

I had many reviews on Book Country that knocked me for a loop, for a good long while. From then to now, I have not changed my approach, except to get more extreme. Oh, and I added more activity. I saw the light in that area.

How do I, how do we all, deal with criticism? We go through a process very similar to the so-called Five Stages of Grief.

ONE. Stage one is denial: These remarks are wrong-wrong-wrong.

Denial helps us to survive the blow. We are in a state of shock. We go numb. We wonder how we can go on, if we can go on, why we should go on. Denial and shock help us to cope. Denial is a way of letting in only as much as we can handle. But flat denial breaks down fast. Any reasonable person has to admit fairly quickly that there must be a spot of truth to any criticism.

TWO. Anger, or at least annoyance, is inevitable.

The more you examine it, the more you truly feel it, the more it will begin to dissipate. There are many other emotions in conjunction with anger, notably pain. Anger is a motivator.

THREE. We move on to bargaining.

We try to appreciate another point of view. If we’re wise, we look for any ideas we can use.

FOUR. We may feel depression.

We wonder, perhaps, if there is any point in continuing a project with, apparently, so many flaws. Hence my long periods of inactivity on my novel.

FIVE. Acceptance.

Our perspective has been forever changed and we must readjust; we move, we grow, we evolve.

We here all have the tools of the trade in hand. Everyone’s first reaction is to defend his/her child. I am still struggling to see other points of view from years ago. (I have saved all my reviews, and I study them.) It’s not that I don’t believe the objections, it’s rather that I don’t see them myself, for this particular piece. Or maybe it’s that I conceive of my thing as an entirely different kind of story than you do. And that is my right, that is our right, to choose what kind of story we tell. Action, characterization, description, how much emphasis do we give to each? My style is a throwback to nineteenth century fiction, and I feel it is in keeping with the subject matter. I love flavorful description for its own sake, and I am more interested in what my characters think of events than the events themselves. I know this is not a formula for a popular success.

I set my heart on eventually gaining a cult following, like Amanda McKittrick-Ros. I will not have an immediate success, like she did. In the nineteen twenties, London high society gave McKittrick-Ros parties, in which one was asked to dress as one of her people and to speak in character. She was quite the rage, thanks to the captivating awfulness of her prose. My success will come years hence, after I’m six feet under, or blowing in the wind. My heart will not be broken by my thing falling into the bottomless pit that is Amazon, never to be heard of again.

The five stages of review grief should bring you to a place in which you are at peace with your choices, where criticism does not upend you, and where you are not defensive, but eager to hear opposing views, they may help you make your piece even better.

If you are of a mind to, read my novella at: myguysly.wordpress.com

The display will change. For one thing, I want a format with sidebars. I want to be able to have pull-quotes. And more graphics, of different configurations. And I will give each chapter its own page; for now it runs together.

If you feel you must, email me at mimispeike@att.net

I am not looking for a response. I mean that. For better or worse, for richer or poorer (probably poorer), I am happy with what I’ve got.

The graphic is of Charles Reade, who has a following one-hundred-fifty years on, despite being called (with good reason, make no mistake) a second-rate author. I am one of his ardent supporters.






16 thoughts on “The Five Stages of (Review) Grief.

  1. GD Deckard says:

    Mimi, I’ve just started reading My Guy Sly. By the third chapter, I’m hooked. It is such a richly detailed, delightful world of characters and history and observations that I will read it all. And when you publish this, I will definitely, happily, purchase a hard copy and proudly tell people, “Yeh, I knew Mimi Speake when she didn’t realize just how good a writer she is.”

    Liked by 1 person

      • GD Deckard says:

        You are not writing what normally passes for writing (including mine) these days, Mimi. Your style is more that of times gone by, which is why it so well fits the content. I suspect your critics can’t think past the movie/TV PoV God. If Sly is ever made into a movie, I imagine it would be done like The Royal Tenenbaums, with a narrator speaking throughout. And if true to your story, it would me hilarious!


  2. Perry Palin says:

    Okay, I’m going to read the novella. I can’t promise a review.

    I have not experienced the five stages of (review) grief. That’s not because I don’t get poor reviews. At an early age I received poor reviews for things beyond my control, and I developed psychological defenses – I learned to not care so much what other people think. It was a survival strategy. There’s plenty of downsides to this. Some people think I’m pretty screwed up because of this. As a member of a community we should care, at least to some degree, what others think.

    To experience the five stages of (review) grief, I would have to care more what the reviewers think about my writing. I am not ready to give them that much control.

    I’m reminded of a friend who wrote a short story for a writing class. He was burned for the story by the instructor. He was upset by the review, but later won a prestigious writing award with the story.

    Liked by 3 people

    • mimispeike says:

      Thank you, Perry. I’m not looking for a review. I am wedded to this version and no review is going to change my mind. It’s this, sink or swim. Yo ho ho and a barrel of rum.

      Liked by 1 person

    • A nice display of fortitude and wisdom there, Perry. I’ve had criticism and been affected, but I’m getting pretty inured to it now, able to what’s positive in it and what’s not. That only comes with time. And of course it helps to have the good reviews outweigh the bad – if it’s the other way round, either there’s something wrong or you’re in a class of your own.


  3. mimispeike says:

    A question for anyone with an answer: How long, weeks? lessons? does it take to become an altar boy? I’m researching on Google and I can’t find an answer.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. GD Deckard says:

    Mimi, I’ve now read 8 chapters of My Guy Sly and the story keeps getting better.
    Oh, um, about your opening. It confused me. I only read through it because I’m stubborn. Maybe, decide what you’re opening with and expand that -simplify or eliminate everything else. Make the opening clear sailing into the story.
    It is a wonder-full story!


    • mimispeike says:

      Thanks, GD. Could you be more specific about what confuses you? Is it the political/cultural set-up, or something else? I have tried to keep those intro chapters very short. I feel they give you a footing in my odd world. Do you include the diplomatic letter in the better-off-without?

      A few words will tell me all I need to know: dump chapters ___, ___ , ___. Start with ….

      It may be best if you email me, rather than bore anyone else with it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mimispeike says:

        Thanks, GD. A valuable comment, via email. Just what I need to hear.

        And, something that won’t be too painful to fix. Sometimes I let cute get the better of good sense.


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