No matter how far I get in my writing career, the hardest part is always letting your baby go. Allowing someone to read and interact with what you’ve written. They might tell you that your baby is ugly. Or your baby is unworthy and should go back into the dark places in the back of your drawer. How terrifying that is to be bold and put your work out there for others to criticize.
When you’re seeking publication, agents and editors might tell you that your baby is ugly. But when you’re published, ANYONE can say publicly how ugly your baby is and describe his flaws in detail. This is the one thing I’ve discovered about writing and taking criticism:
If I BElIEVE in what I’m writing? I couldn’t care less about what someone has to say about it. I know why I wrote it. You can assign ugly motive to me all you like, but that’s not why I wrote it. And I know the truth. My motive was from a good place. Was this person’s review? Or was it just to criticize? I think this is a good lesson to take in life. Does this person giving me feedback genuinely care about me? Or do they have some other motive?
Over the years I’ve had a lot of people tell me THEIR version of Christianity should be mine. Once I had a book cover where the heroine had a tank top on. I was told that I was promoting promiscuity and I should never seek to call myself a Christian. Okay, sure. (At the time, I had NO say in covers either.)
It’s ironic that later my book on late-in-life virginity (What a Girl Wants) got purchased by a Christian singer who wanted to do a movie on that life choice. The movie never got made, but you can see how people can read extremes into your words that aren’t there. That’s because we all come to books with baggage. Our own baggage and backgrounds and it colors what we read and how we see the world.
No writer is for everyone. I’m certainly not. I’m for people who live a Christian life surrounded by atheists. That’s my truth. That’s what is in my books.
All this to say, what people say about you has little to do with you. Let them have their opinions. It has no bearing on you. Although once I did let my baby soar and he ended up in the Middle East. He sent me this picture along with the words, “I’m fine, Mom.” The last picture he sent me with those words, he was hanging out of an airplane over Okinawa. On second thought, maybe we should put a leash on our babies…