Do you remember that feeling from school when you raised your hand and waved it madly because you knew the answer but the teacher picked someone else? I don't. I spent most of grade school sitting on my hands and trying to be invisible. But that's another story.
I had an urge to wave my hand and shout Pick me! during one of the panels at the recent GRNW panels. The question was: Do you read review and do they influence your writing? All the authors on the panels basically said they didn't.
I read reviews. Sure occasionally a bad one stings, but I get over it. Some even make me laugh. I went to art school and having my work ripped apart is not a new experience.
Overall, reviews help me gage if I was successful or not getting across what I wanted. And there's something else too. No two people take away the exact same thing from a book. Readers bring with them their own past experiences and their personalities, and those influence how they interpret the story. Reviews give me a glimpse at those different points of view, and it's fascinating.
Occasionally a reader sees something in my story I didn't realize was there. It doesn't make them wrong. I believe the audience is an active participant of the creative process. It's true to all art forms, but especially story telling. Authors would save themselves some headache by giving into this fact. I suspect many author meltdowns have to do with the person not being able to let go of that exact image of their stories they have in their heads. Well, okay, every once in a while a reviewer is so far out there that you start to wonder about their planet of origin, but c'est la vie, right?