Thursday, July 8, 2010

No Regrets

by Ashley Lister

OK. This is the first time I’ve said this in more than a year of blogging here, but I don’t think I can do this topic. It’s not that I don’t understand the concept of regret. I appreciate we’re looking at a negative assessment following the repercussions of a previous decision. And it’s not that there haven’t been (many) times in my life when I’ve made the wrong decision. But I don’t think I have any genuine regrets. I can’t see the point in brooding on what can’t be changed.

That said, because I don’t like to give up so easily, I’ve compiled below a list of five things I ought to regret.

1) I regret annoying one particular author with a scathing book review. Please note: I don’t regret writing the review. The book (in my opinion) was crap and I was obliged to say so in observance of the reviewer’s code of providing an honest review. But I regret annoying the author – particularly as the hate mail they sent through was unpleasant and puerile.

2) I regret making my email address so easy to find, allowing a disgruntled author to send me hate mail on receipt of a scathing book review.

3) I regret opening the email I received from a disgruntled author. Like the rest of the planet’s mortal population: I only have a dwindling number of minutes left to survive before merciful death releases me from the purgatory of existence. The fact that I wasted three of those dwindling minutes reading the misspelt rantings of a delusional hack is a serious cause for my genuine and heartfelt regret. It’s possibly the only genuine regret in this whole list.

4) I regret smirking at the typos in that email, which came from someone who insisted they have an ability to write properly. Admittedly, it’s rare that irony can be so amusing, but I think my smirking was somewhat childish.

5) I regret that my editor didn’t follow the advice of the disgruntled author, which suggested they should sack me and start employing someone competent.

But, as I said before, I don’t do the regret thing very well. If I started regretting decisions, I’d regret reading the damned book in the first place, or I’d regret agreeing to be a reviewer, or even deciding to be a writer.

To my mind regret is a redundant, reflective practice: so close to the childishness of wishing it seems indulgent for an adult. It would be like wishing for everyone to enjoy the book you’ve written – regardless of your absence of talent or the book’s abysmal quality. And, as the saying goes: wish in one hand, shit in the other, and see which one fills up first.


  1. Hmm, Ashley,

    Now you've got me wondering...

    Good post, though. I envy your ability to be both amusing and cogent simultaneously. (I can't do both and can't always manage even one.)


  2. Ash - Oh lord, man, you make me laugh. And I love your outlook on life. (But if it were me, I would have smirked at the irony of a poorly written rant letter. Heck, I might have gloated.)

  3. Lisabet,

    It would be indecorous of me to say which turkey was responsible for so much clucking (how's that for a good use of metaphor?)

    I'm glad the post made you grin. I'm now blushing from your kind words.


  4. Kathleen,

    For a moment I was touched by the irresisitble urge to correct the author's email and send it back. However, common sense told me that would be unlikely to improve strained relations.



  5. Hi Ash,

    I'm not sure I could have controlled the urge to correct the author's email. I have just a titch of a temper and idiots often provoke it. *Grin*

    Okay, taking note: Don't send crap to Ash for review, he'll give it to me and I'll wimp - a lot!

    Extremely good post. I'm actually very much with you on this. I've done some things in my life that I perhaps shouldn't have, but they've all created who and what I am now. I like that person, mistakes and all.

    Course there was this one time, party: the married couple, the fella and his very large...never mind.


  6. Jude,

    I can't imagine you would ever send me anything substandard for review.

    It's been said a couple of times already this week - decisions good or bad are the things that have made us who we are today. And do any of us regret being that person?

    Ash (who really wants to know how that anecdote ends)

  7. Ash,

    Have no regrets, please!

    Great post, as usual. By the way, I have no regrets either.

  8. Diane,

    No. No real regrets. I wholly sympathise with the author's upset. But sympathising and regret are two very different things.


  9. Hi Ash!

    I'm back from stand-by hell.

    I'm glad i don't review books. I don;t think I'm the right guy for it, but also I don;t know what I'd do if I found myself with a real turkey on my hands. I don;t know what I'd say.

    I want to get together with you and get some lessons on scanning and meter. Please let me know!


  10. Garce,

    I'd be happy to share any insights I've got into scanning and meter. One of the resources I've found invaluable online is this page from Strathclyde university:



  11. Ash!

    I tried following your link but it won;t load.

    I'm filled with regret.



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