One of the most rewarding things about being a writer, or I am sure any manner of artsy sort of person, is having your work reach people. Sure, you may do the work for yourself but you intend others to see it or you would keep it all in a journal or a box. You want people to see and, hopefully, to get your work. Ah, but then there are the people who don’t get it, don’t connect to it, don’t want to connect to it, and who want everyone out there to know they didn’t like what you did.
I remember when the first book, Back From Nothing came out and it was up on Amazon and reviews started to come in. Not many reviews, and they were from friends, but they were something. It is always interesting to see how others see your work because they may see things you don’t and may not pick up on things that you thought were quite clear. And then there are those that just don’t get anything out of your work. Of the, I think it si eighteen, reviews on Amazon for BFN there were a couple that were scathing.
At first I was just stunned because they were not just ‘meh, I don’t like this’ but were just all out assaults. I had never really had success with my writing outside of friends and friends of friends but damn, to get hit so hard by a review was rough. Then another popped up and together they were a tag team of Fail. The reviews were needles that dug deep into me and made me question whether I was just misleading myself about the book. That I had really put together a big crap-pile. One of the reviews pointed out how friends probably had written the reviews there, and that cut deep, though now I can say, well, of course they did. I was a first time author. Who else was gonna review it?
I think what gets me about those reviews is you never know what the intent of the person was. Did they want to convey that they didn’t like the book, or that they didn’t like its author? Most of what was said in the reviews almost seems to have come from them reading a different book, not because mine was so amazing but because it felt like they had missed the heart of the whole thing. I mean, I could get that those were rough stories from a very young writer, but damn, the reviews treated the work as if it was nothing more than a series of personal diary entries and not a series of stories.
It was frustrating and it always will be. I think we can all take constructive criticism that helps us grow and better ourselves and our work but when you or something you do are attacked it gets hard to get anything but angry from it. But there’s the rub, it is what it is, and you can’t let what someone else thinks stop you from doing what you do. There is no real right or wrong when it comes to art or writing, just opinions, and the bigger you get the more you will deal with. If you are so worried about what others think then you are screwed. I dunno that you ever get skin thick enough to ignore the slings and arrows but you just have to not give too much creedence to what others think. If you do what you love, and do it as truthfully as possible then that is about all you can ask of yourself.
With the new book I am preparing myself for any negative reviews, because I am sure they will come. Hell, I figure though that you are sorta legit when you get negative reviews.
Shit, maybe not. It’s a thought though. I am still curious how people see my writing but anymore, not as curious as I used to be, which may be a good thing.