I enjoy reading a good story or poem and then writing something nice about it, pointing out its good qualities, then, if possible, contacting the author or poet and letting him or her know. The review process is less pleasant and more difficult for me when the story or poem disappoints.
I try to find something nice to say when I feel that a story or poem is sub-par, but rocket-dragons will always be telling, and sometimes it is difficult to find anything nice to say when the story lacks luster or the poem is muddled and confusing. I even find myself getting angry, resentful, almost insulted when this happens--I can't help but wonder how an awful story or poem could get published when mine cannot. I try not to allow this pettiness effect my reviews, but I'm only human--it probably does to some extent. The vast, vast majority of my work has remained unpublished despite aggressive marketing.
I have received many less than kind critiques on my work from various sources. I try to have a thick skin and to learn from them, but it still hurts. I have, I know, written a fair number of less than kind reviews on Songs of Eretz. But let it not be said that I can dish it out but not take it.
The fact that a story or poem gets published at all in a professional market should mean, almost by definition, that the work is good on some level--after all, a respected panel of editors thought so and paid for the privilege of publishing. Only about 1 in 200 submissions are accepted for publication, so those that are accepted are, by definition, in the top one half of one percent.
So, after some reflection, I have decided to do my best to find something good in every story and poem that I review--to see what the editors and publishers saw. If I cannot, it probably says more about my own shortcomings than any on the part of the author or poet or editors. Hopefully, readers of Songs of Eretz will find a definite change of tone in the less than kind reviews published here. Nevertheless, rocket-dragons will still be rocket-dragons...