Even some of the harshest critics of "On a Spiritual Plain" have admitted the core idea was clever and/or original. The most common complaint - and let's face it, a lot of people go into their reviews with a bias because of the Sad Puppies involvement - was that it was "poorly executed".
One follow up comment to such a review said "I'd be interested to see how this could have been handled by a more competent writer." You know what? I agree! But I'm the one who stuck his neck out, took the chance, and made the effort. I did the best I could, at the time and under the circumstances. It's very seldom anyone writes a story where people sit back after reading and say, "This could not have been done any possibly better." There is always room for improvement!
Every story I write is a step on the path towards becoming a better writer. The stuff I write this year shows improvement from the stuff I wrote last year, or ten years ago, for that matter. I believe that as long as you're alive, you're learning. Once you stop learning and growing, you start dying. We're all going to die eventually. So many people in life are always to late to everything, but they get a head start on dying by losing their enjoyment of learning, and their sense of wonder.
I feel sorry for people who, because of social and clan bonds, miss so much of the enjoyment of life. I guess there' s an advantage of coming from poor immigrant stock. I never had anything to live up to.
I think if people would just stop checking authors' resumes first and read the stories, they might find some great stuff out there. They might also enjoy not having to do contortions to justify reading some fiction they are supposed to like because of social, political and religious prequalifications.