One huge stumbling block Malaysian writers face, in my opinion, is the inability to take criticism. I believe that it’s impossible to improve if you refuse to consider your weak points. I do think it’s important to believe in what you do, and in your style, your own voice and your stories, but it’s imperative to listen to others’ opinion of your work and take into consideration their point of view.
I know local writers who feel that a bad book review shows lack of support, but I feel that all writers can learn from an honest review, good or bad, but especially one that clearly points out why the reviewer is less than thrilled with the book. After all, there is always room for improvement and if one receives nothing but praise, how can one know which areas need work?
I agree. She adds the following horror story:
A self-published writer recently e-mailed the manuscript of her second novel to me, implying that it was ready for print. I found countless mistakes but when I asked her if she was going to get it edited or at least proofread, she replied, “I am satisfied with everything. From the characters to the setting to the words used ... right down to the punctuation marks.”
The book has been published, complete with all the mistakes that I spotted in the manuscripts. It’s been suggested that the writer doesn’t realise the mistakes are actually mistakes.
What is really worrying, though, is that someone said to me that the mistakes might not matter since the book would probably be read by teenagers.
(I wonder if this was the same book that so horrified my friend!)Daphne picks up a quote from me about demanding your money back from the bookshop if you find more than five mistakes! I was sort of joking, but I wonder what would happen if everyone did that??
A couple of other interesting posts on the MPH event: Antares reflects on Datuk Ng's book guild proposal, and my favourite squid, BP, enjoys the chicken mayo sandwiches.