Can someone from another planet write reviews? Part 1 with a poem.

Chocolate. Reviews are like chocolate. The more we have, the more we want. However, we are fussy creatures and demand it be of the best kind. It needs to be rich and smooth and melt in the mouth. But taste, like much in our lives, is different for everyone.

Reflecting on this, I found myself drifting back to a few years ago when I received an email from a friend requesting a recommendation of books to read. Not a difficult task, I am sure you would agree.

However, I found myself reluctant to comply. Liking, not liking, loving, hating are subjective and as a reader I knew this well but add in ‘writer’ to the equation and it becomes a nightmare. I know I don’t meet the desired criteria for so many people so how can I comment on what is good? As a consequence, I struggled to make that list. I realised I could be from another planet for all I understood of good and bad.

I got over that thought quickly. A reader reads; a reader reads a lot. That reader is entitled to an opinion on what they like. As a writer we need to accept that. The quandary arising comes from reality. Critical comment is painful. Yet, we have a right to choose according to our preferences. Hence, let’s be honest, the universal truth is undeniable – there is no way to please everyone. We are different and subject to those differences when making choices whether in reading, in clothing, our friendship and spousal preferences and the food we eat.

Problems lie in how we make those preferences known. Sadly, reviews for a writer are a means to a livelihood. The question then becomes, should we hold back in what we say in order to remain supportive. In fact, wouldn’t this be considered a compromise of ideals? I don’t honestly know the answer but if we are to appreciate differences and differences are what make us fascinating as human beings then maybe we should be more thoughtful in what we do say or rather, in how we say it.

When I originally wrote the poem below, I wondered what aberration had taken hold of my keyboard fingers. (I am not an athlete of any description, ask my children. Furthermore, where running is concerned, I could seriously be from another planet.) Yet I wrote from a runner’s point of view. Or did I?

Running is all consuming so often runners only see the road ahead; they see what suits without regard to how it may affect someone beside them, in front of, or behind them. The runner is focussed on the prize – the distance travelled and not on the road itself. There is no time for distractions. It is situational. In a race perhaps, the focus would apply and consequently make sense.

However, I didn’t write about the Olympics or any race. I wrote about a runner on a road who has a choice to see a storyteller with potholes, a choice to see flowers amongst the weeds, and the choice to see the sky, the sun and to feel the rain. Complete concentration may make the runner faster, but will they miss what their surroundings offer, will they forgo the novelty and often incongruous beauty along the way?

How you may be asking, does this relate to reviews? Good question. Do we stay focused on what should be and disregard the flowers amongst the weeds? Can we not run for the pleasure of it, for the joy of the freedom offered? Can we not enjoy our surrounds and see the weeds, note they need pulling out but also mention the violets? If this doesn’t make sense, then tune in next month for Part 2.


(a free verse poem partnered with Japanese tanka (5 lines, syllable count 7/5/7/7/5)

The runner takes the first leap

and shoes, laces tight, hit the

solidity of pavement.

There is a flinch, a moment

when the challenging entity

steps out of the zone, decides

it may not be worth it. Too

late though to reconsider

for the need to win is

ingrained and selfish.

I choose to go.

The runner is focused

and fails to notice the

passing landscape, the green

of the grass, the burst of fire 

from the hibiscus buds,

the fragrant scent of the roses

and the tender purple blooms

without a name. The thrill of the

workout takes precedence over

surroundings, over the

over-worked heart.

I choose to bleed.

The runner ignores the sweat

and perhaps even relishes

the liquid heat pouring

from the exertion. It is proof

of action, of doing, of being

and justifies the ignoring

 of life, of people, of

everything but the satisfaction

of indulging, of gratifying

desires. I watch and shudder

but I am not that runner and I

know that the tiny heart-shaped

flowers are violets.

I choose knowledge.

petals opening

fragrance and colour follow

the beauty of spring

nature indulges senses

and new possibilities

Thanks to for the images

Photo by Josh Gordon  for runner

Photo by Pushpak Dsilva  chocolate

Photo by Artiom Valla  violets

Questions for me? Want to share your views and ideas? I’d love to hear from you. A like and a comment will keep me working harder. And, if by any chance you have read my books or a book, I have featured I would love it if you left a review. It helps writers become better writers. Consider leaving one on Goodreads

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  1. My favourite poem of yours so far. Very insightful and touching. And no, I’m not ignoring the weeds, there were none!

  2. You’ve asked very relevant questions to the runner and writer. Both practices have benefits at the other end of the work, and while the work itself can be dreary on some days, we should still take the time to smell the roses, as it were, and celebrate the fact that we’re privileged to be able to do what we do too. Anyway, thanks for this post!

  3. Pingback: Can someone from another planet write reviews? Part 2 - Barbara Strickland - Author & Blogger

  4. Pingback: May, June, and July Chilling with Books Corner 2022, being real and finding inspiration - Barbara Strickland - Author & Blogger

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