I have an urban noir fantasy series I’m working on. Some have compared it favorably and not at all favorably to Jim Butcher’s Dresden series. One worthy even accused me of plagiarizing not Butcher’s words, but his entire world.
Hmm, Harry Dresden is a wizard who lives (well, used to) in Chicago, is a wizard and deals with the assorted denizens of Irish fantasy. Then of course there is Glen Cook’s Garrett PI who lives in an urban setting, has an obese mentor (who happens to be dead) and who deals with the assorted denizens of Irish fantasy, sort of an updated version of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe. Then there is Simon R. Green, Kevin Hearne, and of course the one who helped create the PI with a helper mythology, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, all imitated and to a certain extent imitating previous works that inspired them.
Remember a certain British author by the name of J.R.R. Tolkien? He wrote a couple of books centered on the forging of a certain ring of power. Except, of course, there was very little in those books that wasn’t borrowed from or inspired by previous works, Der Ring des Nibelungen by Richard Wagner for one and the works of both Irish and English fantasy for others.
There is a tendency for readers to become obsessed with the works of a particular author to the point of protectiveness of what they have taken on as being their favorite alone. Any other writer who happens to step into their assumed refuge is subjected to whatever abuse can be dished out. The movie Misery springs to mind. I wonder if my critic carries a claw hammer…?
Which brings me to the subject contained within the title, feeling bad about critical opinions that are less than favorable is a waste of time. Real writers do not write because of deadlines or a paycheck, or even for the fame. They write because they need to tell the story that is in them, even if that story is inspired by another author. I imagine that Homer faced similar critics. I am not comparing myself to Homer but merely pointing out that, along with prostitution, the critic is one of the oldest professions.