Okay, the last (I think) entry on this subject.Â
I’veÂ made a startling discovery:Â that I’m one of only a few authors in the universe whoÂ gets heartburn fromÂ a bad review.Â Â Wow, who would’ve guessed that there are so many well-adjusted authors out there?Â AuthorsÂ whoÂ aren’t bothered in the leastÂ about getting whacked over the head by anonymous people in public forums like Amazon?Â Â
(I think I’mÂ also a Really Dumb Author for going public with my sensitivity.)
But EC said something in one of her comments that really resonated with me:
The Amazon.ca glitch revealed another sort of hypocrisy: the anonymous postersâ€“readers, not writersâ€“who didnâ€™t want their names revealed and their words held up to public scrutiny. Iâ€™m sorry, but if you post, youâ€™ve published, and you should be prepared to play by the same rules as professional authors. If youâ€™re of the option that working writers should suck it up because it comes with the territory, then OWN YOUR WORDS and accept the possibility that what goes around, comes around.
So okay, maybe I’ve said things here that sound neurotic and hypersensitive.Â Â But at least, damn it, I’m brave enough to OWN MY OWN WORDS.Â On this blog, you all know exactly who’s writingÂ theseÂ thoughts.
Unlike the cowardly anonymous reviewers who throw bombs and scuttle back under their rocks.
I’ve pondered the question of why, exactly, getting a bad review bothers me so much.Â And I think it has to do with how muchÂ of my own soul goes into a book.Â If I get an unkind comment about, say, a blogpost or an article, well, that’s only a few hours’ worth of labor that’s gone unappreciated.Â
But I spend more time and more effort writing a book than I ever did gestating a kid.Â By the end of a year’s writing, I’ve become personally invested in the characters and what happens to them.Â I’ve gotten gray hairs over these people.Â I’ve done the best job I know how to do, and once it’s done and published, there’s nothing I can do to go back and change it, no matter how many bad reviews I get.Â So no, bad reviews don’t help one whit in improving the story; the book’s already done.Â And whatever criticisms a reviewer may have don’t carry over as lessons into my next book, because that’s a completely different project with completely different issues to contend with.Â Bad reviews aren’t Teaching Moments; they’re bombs thrown at kids who are already born and who can’t be stuffed back into the womb.
I’ve used children before as a metaphor for books, and how most of us wouldÂ hate it if a complete stranger told us our kid was ugly.Â Books are like babies — reflections of ourselves.Â I keep hearing thatÂ “your book is not you”, and that we shouldn’t take criticism of our books personally, but you know what?Â My books are as personal to me as my children are.Â Â A book isÂ what I’ve spent the past twelve months or moreÂ thinking about and dreaming about.Â It’s not just a piece of garbage I nailed together, but something I’ve painstakinglyÂ labored over.Â Â They’re the parts of me that will survive after I’m dead and buried.
I may be taking this writing thing way too seriously.Â
On the other hand, the fact I take it so seriously — and so personally — may explain why I’ve managed to get as far as I have.