Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Dust Off the Seat of Your Britches and Move On

You've just spent eons slaving over a keyboard writing your latest work. Your main character is exactly how you want him or her, your plot is well thought out and developed, the voice and tone is perfect, and your grammar and spelling is flawless. Your editor or proofreaders are finally thrilled with your completed literary masterpiece, and so are you. 

With a big, proud smile on your face, your work is published, and you sit back waiting on the glowing reviews to start pouring in. Only they don't. You get a couple of lovely reviews, then bingo, you get one you don't understand. What? The reviewer says my plot is weak. Heavens! And there are editing errors. That can't be. No, they're wrong. I did so mean for my main character to do that. That's his/her personality. The
nerve of them to say it's juvenile, stupid, unlikely, impossible, or ridiculous. Hmmph. I can too write. How dare they. They must not have any sense. Maybe, or maybe they are just expressing an opinion. Even though you may not agree with what the reviewer said,  never, never argue with  them. Do not comment on their review. Ever. This is the best advice I ever received from a fellow writer. Dust off the seat of your britches and move on.

It really is true you need to have a thick skin if you are going to write for the public. I don't always take criticism well. How many of us really do, if we're honest? Constructive criticism from a trusted peer or friend is just fine. Years ago, I learned if I wanted to improve my craft, I needed to listen to what these people I highly valued had to say. I did, and I got better. What I am really referring to here is a jab in the ribs from someone we don't even know who offers nothing helpful along with the painful jab.

So far, I've been blessed. The reviews for my books have not been bad, and in fact, most have been very, very nice. However, I know that an especially painful one is on its way. It happens to everyone. With eyes almost halfway shut, I look several times a week at my reviews on amazon, just knowing it is lurking there.What will I do when I read it? Well, since I have developed a thicker skin, probably not much of anything. I will be momentarily disappointed, then move on. After all, it is only one's person's opinion.

We don't all like the same kind of ice cream

When I wrote my first Faylene in High Plains book, I tried to explain to a few people what I was doing and trying to accomplish. I don't do that anymore. There are all kinds of writing styles, voices, and purposes for writing a novel. If someone enjoys the ones I have written, I am very pleased, but if they don't, that's okay, too. We don't all like the same kind of ice cream. Why should novels be any different?

If you are upset over a bad review, read the reviews on some of the classics. You'll find some really bad ones there. I know, because I admit I have done this. I wanted to see what regular readers thought of these works of art. You just can't please everyone, even if you are Harper Lee or Tennessee Williams.

So, when you get your first bad review, celebrate! Eat a bag of M&Ms or sip a glass of wine. You've reached a writer's milestone.

Happy Writing!



  1. Love love this post!! Thank you! I'll remember when my time comes.

    1. You're welcome. Sometimes I need to remind myself, too. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. That's a good way to look at it, as a milestone. Between two books, I have had two bad reviews. The first one really stung, and it took me a while to get past it. The second one stung less, and I moved beyond it quickly. It's funny, sometimes from the bad review you can tell that your book wasn't what the reviewer was looking for anyway. What helped me keep it in perspective was what Jody Hedlund once said on her blog - your book won't be everyone's cup of tea, and that's okay (my paraphrase). Something else that helped was recalling Ann Gabhardt's words from an interview, "Rejection is not fatal."

    Thanks so much for offering this wonderful perspective. A bad review could be just around the corner, but it doesn't have to define our writing or us as a person.

    1. "Rejection is not fatal." I love that! Thanks for your comments.

  3. Great advice. I've sipped a glass or two of wine over a review--sometimes even over good reviews. :) You're so right, when we look at some of the reviews on the classics-we're in good company. Thankfully, I've only received a couple, but they sure can sting for a little bit.

    1. Yes, they can, but we just go on. Thanks for the visit and comments.