Monday, October 2, 2017

Monday: Bad Reviews

Embarrassment. Insecurity. Desperate need for Snickers. Bad reviews can overwhelm and undermine any writer. The emotions that come with criticism might drain an author of the desire to continue creating. Amidst the excitement of publishing my first novella, ROUTE 12, I tried to remember there would be negative reviews. It’s a part of putting yourself out there. Writing a story and letting others read your work. I was worried how I might react.


Huh. I mean, it didn’t feel good to have someone call my efforts stupid, but I was okay. I didn’t take it personally. Oddly, it made me laugh. Quietly. Over my extra-large ice cream sundae.

No. Really, I almost felt bad for the reader. I’m pretty sure she had no idea what she was getting into when she bought the book. I imagine she picked it up while it was on a crazy, blow-out clearance sale, but she still made the purchase. She wrote out her feelings. I appreciated and understood where she was coming from.

I do enjoy constructive criticism. It means someone took the time and read my work. After ROUTE 12 came out, a reviewer offered that I had glossed over a rape scene and, at first, I found her view concerning.  

I thought long and hard on the reader’s words. In a certain way, I agreed with her, but then recalled my true intent in that scene was to distract from the physical act of rape. I wanted to avoid any titillation that might come from too much description. For that character, I chose to focus on the aftermath. I understood and agreed with the reviewer, but for that story and that scene I needed something different. It was a style that did not match her tastes. Or, I didn’t achieve my goal. Fair.

“Thank you.”

I thank people for bad reviews. I appreciate when someone has spent enough time with my words to come out of that book or story with an opinion. If criticism is helpful, I try to soak up the lessons while I still can. My brain is stubborn these days.
For mean natured or “trolly” type reviews, I try my best to ignore. If something hurts I’ll talk with author-friends. Drink wine. Tell my Mom. Order tacos. Repeat. I do not contact mean-spirited reviewers.

In fact, I will avoid negativity in any capacity for as long as I can. Trust me, I’ve been miserable before and I know it’s an emotion I don’t really care for.

There is no good reason to reach out to a troll. Their intention is not to help, but to make someone else feel their misery.

Thanks to my lazy, easily-distracted nature, my ability to overlook bad stuff is almost hero-like and I try to put that super-power to work for me. Truly, it’s not healthy to obsess over what people might say about something I’ve written. If I concentrated on reviews, nothing in my life would ever get done. I’d never move on to another story. Who’d feed the cats? Just forget about taking a shower. Trust me, no one needs that. Unless it makes me better, I let bad stuff go.

Therefore, immediately after publication, I just turn down my phone, avoid social media for as long as I can and keep busy with things that have nothing to do with writing. I remind myself that I liked the story and my editor liked the story and that is all I can control.
Or at least my editor said they liked it. Wait.

1 comment:

Alex Segura said...

This was useful to read, thanks! I never engage publicly with a review, unless I'm tagged and it's good/merits a share. If someone doesn't like one of my novels, I'll just try to let it go. If they reach out with a link or tag me in a tweet/post (I find the latter kind of tacky, but YMMV), I'll thank them privately for taking the time to read my work. Because I AM thankful someone took time out of their day and myriad distractions/responsibilities to spend time with my characters. Would I prefer they enjoy the ride? Sure. But you can't let the negative ones haunt you for too long.