I used to publish one to four books a year. After a pretty traumatic series of circumstances, I stopped writing altogether. I’ve only had one new book in the last five years. Part of the reason I stopped writing is that I was getting criticized so much in my real life, I couldn’t take the online ugly reviews. Writing used to be my escape and it simply stopped being fun. It’s hard to be kicked when you’re down, so why volunteer for it?
Bad reviews are part of every creative’s life. You can’t please everyone and now that reviewers can hide behind a keyboard, the personal attacks (on you the artist, not the product) can be relentless. There was a day when I didn’t care what reviewers said because I was in a good place and knew why I wrote the book. I told myself, “Okay, not for that reader. Next.”
But I’ve been working on one book since 2014. It’s been brewing that long and it’s nearly finished. It’s set up to be a series of five books so part of what took me so long was building the world for the other characters to play in later. I plan to release, “Room at the Top” in the Summer of 2020 (world’s worst year!) and I hope it will bring a smile to my readers. I’m mustering my courage to come back after my readers have moved on to different writers. That’s a lot of pressure. Old dog, new tricks, and all that.
Brene Brown, who struggles with vulnerability, quotes Teddy Roosevelt in her book, “Daring Greatly.” She states that people who criticize don’t really have the right to do so since they’re not even in the game. And while true, it will never stop critics. Some people — it’s just in their nature to be displeased. I mean, even when they’re getting a book for free. (Do they know they can stop reading it? That’s what I do.)
“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly…who at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails by daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt
I don’t generally read my reviews anyway, but I’m braced for them — good and bad. Today, I was watching “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” on television (thank you lockdown.) I was thinking about how Angel Clare is the hero of that book, but also the villain as he represents Victorian England and he destroys Tess completely. On a recent review of the book, someone wrote, “The real villain of this book is Thomas Hardy for writing it.” Ouch. Dissed nearly 100 years after his death — still, the bad reviews play on…by people who are not in the arena. Hardy was a genius who is buried in Poet’s Corner of Westminster Abbey. I wonder what the reviewer’s literary credentials are.
Incidentally, Thomas Hardy stopped writing fiction after the heinous reviews on “Jude the Obscure.” He took to poetry after that.
I’m a terrible poet, so I’ll stick with Chick Lit/Women’s Fiction — but I’m ready! It’s time to get back in the game!