A challenge to Liz Breslin’s hateful writing

by Michael Botur


Sigh. Usually I concentrate on the positives around writing – setting examples for other authors; putting out encouragement, praise and support. I put on shows with the Poetry Posse; I encourage people to enter awards; I tutor creative writing in community classes. 

Mostly I’m a pretty positive guy, but the following hit piece by bitter Otago reviewer Liz Breslin can’t go without a response. 

Ms Breslin appears to be a one book author, or a half-a-book author, to be technical. As far as I know, close on retirement age, she has published fewer than 100 pages. 

So, here’s some perspective about the short story collection True?, which received its only negative review from Ms Breslin in August 2019 – a deliberately cynical, bitter review presumably motivated by …. God knows. 

Breslin writes:

“Whether written in the first, second or third person (all of which are used in different stories across the collection), these stories fail to hit the mark.”

> Yeah, nah –  please see reviews from experienced reviewers who have had training in writing. https://nzshortstories.com/reviews/

“But the writing is often too authorial, poorly proofread and possibly offensive,” Breslin writes. 

> Breslin – who, again, has published very little – appears to have an ulterior motive in publishing her hit piece. Some kind of hate-jealousy-bitterness, probably motivated by how little she has achieved. Not very professional. Let’s read on. 

“The cumulative effect of pages and pages of casual, barely-disguised disability-bashing leaves a pretty sour taste.”

> Considering one of my day jobs recently was organising this year’s inaugural Delivering Disability Services Conference, it’s outrageous to suggest the author has done some “disability-bashing.”

“It’s hard for the reader to move beyond offensive cliché and find a place of empathy. “

I have empathy for 99 percent of writers in New Zealand, and it would have been nice if this fellow writer of Polish ancestry has shown some empathy. Sadly, NZ writer Liz Breslin has brought hate and bitterness into her writing. It’s a shame and a waste.

Again, Liz, I beg you – please get some advice from experienced reviewers who have had training in writing literary reviews. https://nzshortstories.com/reviews/


ps – Quick advice for any writer or critic tempted to write something hateful

  1. Go for a walk. You’ll feel better within minutes. 
  2. Work on your own writing. As the saying goes, Content people content people, and hurt people hurt people. 
  3. Perform your writing to an audience who loves you. Move past your self-doubt – and try not to turn it on other people. 
  4. Give your writing some air and come back to a later draft. Don’t create bitter words late at night just cause you’re tired and grumpy. 
  5. Get off the internet for a while. The net encourages people to write bitter, cynical and even hateful stuff, especially Twitter, where there is no room for structured debate. Just bumper stickers. 

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