Hazel McHaffie

Healthy criticism

OK, OK, OK. Enough is enough.

It was pretty to start with, incredible after a few days, but a major inconvenience now. Huge mounds of snow being shovelled out of the way day after day; access to roads constantly in question;
transport by any means chaotic; enormous icicles an ongoing risk to life and limb and no sign of a cessation of hostilities as yet.

(SORRY: my lovely pictures of the snow have been accidentally deleted)

Most things I had in the diary have been cancelled or postponed, but one group of hardy women decided they wouldn’t be deterred by a few treacherous pavements or freezing temperatures. No, indeed, the show would go on. We’re British! So in the darkness of early evening on Thursday I found myself battling in from the wild wastes of the country into the city, courtesy of my kindly son-in-law-chauffeur, to make a guest appearance at a book club.

Wow! What an impressively informed and articulate group of ladies. And what a treat to listen to a lively discussion about Alzheimer’s, Remember Rememberand my book, Remember Remember, first hand. I had previously sent a message to say they shouldn’t hold back on the criticism; I’d welcome good healthy challenge, but I suspect they were all too polite and kind to risk hurting my feelings. Yes, they asked a lot of questions, and told some moving personal stories, but they said only gracious things about the book.

So I still don’t know what they really thought. Which is a pity. I’d be much more convinced I was getting the truth if I heard ‘I really didn’t like …’ or ‘I hated …’ or ‘I’m not sure why you did …’ But unqualified flattery leaves me uneasy. No book is perfect – certainly not mine. So please, if you’ve read any of my novels and you haven’t posted a review on Amazon or contacted me with constructive criticism, consider doing so (it’s easy via my website – one click and you’re there). And make it honest. (No need to reduce me to total ribbons!) It really does help to know how I could improve my writing. I can’t please all of the people, all the time, but I can listen and learn.

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