No really, I need major bandaids and chocolate right now. Why? Because one of my books got totally slaughtered by a reviewer. Not just a little 3 star, “not up to par” review. But a full on assault about not only the story line, but my writing style as well. It has left me battered and bruised.
I know. I shouldn’t care. I should shake it off and keep on going. It’s only one reviewer’s opinion. But … that’s a happy world where rose colored glasses blur the harsh words of critiques and warm fuzzies soften all the spikey edges of negative opinions. Unfortunately, my glasses happen to be in the shop for repair this week and the fuzzy blanket is dripping wet in the wash.
Writing is a difficult profession. Harder than I would have ever imagined. After the euphoria of finishing that first book there is the gut-wrenching step of sending your “baby” out into the world for others to see. You want them to love it and find it as beautiful as you do. But of course they don’t. Writers lovingly call these rejection letters. They come at us from editors and agents. Some with personal notes, but mostly form rejections that go out to the masses. It’s a little hit to your ego, but hey, it’s not like it was unexpected for the first time around, so you go back to the keyboard, do some revisions and send it out again.
In the meantime, you enter a few writing contests, hoping to final and you start your next book. Your writing group/critique partners encourage you and tell you to keep going which you do. Then you get a couple more rejections and the contest entry not only didn’t final, one of the judges scored it so low you wonder if your third grader couldn’t have done a better job.
But you persevere. Because writing is often not something we choose to do, but something we MUST do.
Eventually the contract comes through! Yay! Celebrations, tears and a little champagne all the way around. Few people wade through the muck to get to this point, you know it and you’re very proud of yourself (as you should be). Happy! Happy! Euphoria surrounds you like a warm cloud.
Then the first set of edits come in. The motivation is unclear for your hero and the heroine is really wimpy in this scene and your villain … well does he have to do THAT in chapter 4? Deep breath. No one has died through the editing process. So you push up this mountain and realize when the final edits are complete that your editor is completely awesome and how much better your book is because you slogged through all the sagging scenes and amped up the conflict.
And then release day comes around! I love release day. All the happy tingling feelings of an orgasm without the mess … oh, total TMI! LOL! Anyway, I shout from the rooftops and dance happily around doing my errands, leaving pens with the bank tellers, handing out bookcover flats to strangers in the grocery store and proclaiming what a special day it is!
Then the reviews roll in. There are some really good ones, middle of the road … and then there are the “sucker punch to the gut” devastating reviews that seem to yell so much louder than those other wonderful reviews. It’s like they elbow their way to the front of your brain when you sit down to write, reminding you that perhaps you’re not really as talented as you thought you were. Erroding your self confidence.
Writing is a relationship. And just like all other relationships it has its peaks and valleys. Would I like to be at the top of the mountain every day? You betcha. Writing when I’m looking out at that view is eeeeaaasy. But when I’m in the valleys after a rejection or a bad review, I have to dig deep to write the story. And when I’m in those low points, the satisfaction of writing one more scene, one more chapter, one more book is so much sweeter.
So yeah, I hit a bump, but a few pieces of chocolate and a WHOLE LOT of ice cream should soothe the ache. In reality I guess I don’t have time to dwell on anything negative, I’ve got some impatient characters clamoring to have their story told. They keep reminding me that wallowing in self-pity doesn’t get them to their “happy-ever-after”… and all that it implies! *wink*