“No name-calling truly bites deep unless, in some dark part of us, we believe it. If we are confident enough then it is just noise.” ― Laurell K. Hamilton, A Stroke of Midnight
If you haven't already thought I was certifiable (crazy, that is) by now...well, you will after this blog.
But I came to terms with something recently and I wanted to share it.
Last year, my very first book, Candy G, was published.
Like all new authors, I was in the clouds. The entire experience from writing the words The End to the offering of a contract to the first glimpse of the cover to THE event...its release.
And, then, like all authors---new and veteran---I got reviews.
Most authors may have much more confidence that I; feedback may not affect them. Bad reviews may just glide off them like water on a duck's back. Good feedback may just be taken in stride.
Oh, I got many wonderful reviews...some I didn't even have to pay for! (Joking, joking). Even some of the not-so-good reviews cited some very good, strong positives about my writing. Most importantly, many took my book seriously. My chest swelled, of course, with pride.
But here's the kicker.
Those weeds---those unavoidable yet necessary weeds called negative feedback---cropped up in my lovely garden of praise.
In retrospect (you know how you remember the harsh stuff more than anything else?), I think the worst hit to my pride was for a reviewer to call the plot 'silly'. Ouch.
To compound the fracture of the embarrassment, the reviewer's tone was---and gods, how I hate this word---snarky. It made fun of the plot. To have my book mocked on a very well-known review site in such a demeaning fashion was hurtful, especially as I was a new author. Welcome to the world of thick skin development! Double ouch.In my smashed ego-vision, I saw the reviewer as a sort of Skut Farkas, making fun of my silly story and taunting me to run home and tell my mommy.
Oh, hey, I'm not arguing and I'm not pitying myself. I'll be the first to admit the plot probably was kind of silly. I learned the hard way---which I have to admit might be the best way---that plotting is not my strong suit in writing. I DO have many strengths, but, alas, plot creation may not be among them.
Even this realization doesn't discourage me. I'll learn to put the iron to my writing weaknesses. To acknowledge those issues and thereby work on them can only improve my skills.
What DOES bother me is that I took that one weed and held it close to my heart, clung to it and, for some reason, set it as the standard for my self-confidence.
After that review, I even found myself warning potential readers, Hey, the plot is pretty silly, just warning you. Or, Hope you enjoy my silly little book.
Tragically, I constantly referred to my book as silly. And I meant it. I really believed---because someone poked fun at my book---it was a piece of garbage.
Shame on me.
Recently, after the first year had passed, after I'd resigned myself to having a 'silly' book to my name, after apologizing constantly for the book itself---I took a look at Candy G.
And you know what?
I just about cried---first, just from reliving the memories of writing it, the pride in being accepted by the publisher, the thrill of it all. And, finally, I cried because I'll be damned if I didn't see my baby through new eyes, and actually found myself admitting it wasn't such a bad book after all. It had its good points as well as its bad, and I was sorry that I'd spent so much negative time on being embarrassed by it.
It was a first book. Some write perfect first books. I did not. Yes, the silly plot hadn't miraculously changed in a year's time. It was still there. But I finally allowed myself the pride I should have had all along. I realized what was THE silly thing was to have judged and condemned my own work based on one comment in one review. I'm not saying I should not take the feedback seriously. I should. And I do.
But I shouldn't have lost my pride in my work---which put the shadows of doubt on any future works, in my ability---based on one little neutron of negativity.
I'll always embrace humility in my work, but I'll write to the best of my ability and I'll try to embrace my pride as well. A happy medium of both, I hope.
So...Candy G...I owe you an apology for letting myself ever be ashamed of you. You weren't such a bad little book after all.