Friday, July 9, 2010

Can't Stop Grinning

*I started writing this on Thursday. Took me all day. Now it's technically Friday. Oh, well. Sorry I'm a little late. (Serves chocolate and cupcakes to bribe your forgiveness.)
The reviews are coming in and I can't help the huge grin, even if I look a little psychotic. But there's nothing like feeling this kind of love. Just after I posted review snippets over on the Promise website, another reviewer left a comment full of awesomesauce. See it all here.
As these have been coming in over the last few days, I can't help but think about reviews and what they mean to the creator - the artist, the writer, the actor, the musician, etc. Most say to ignore the bad ones and not let them get you down. But if you don't give them any creed, isn't it somewhat hypocritical to love the good ones? I mean, I want to print mine out and roll around in them. But it's inhibiting to our growth and development to only embrace the praise and turn our backs on the criticism.
My very first review from a total stranger was meh. 3 out of 5 stars. She liked it, but didn't love it. The review stung at first, but then I realized I had 3 choices: 1) I could fall into a pit of depression, believing that I'm only fooling myself and this was the stupidest idea. Ever. 2) I could completely dismiss it and tell everyone (including myself) all kinds of lies and insults about the reviewer, although all she did was share her opinion...and we're all entitled to one. 3) Let the sting subside, swallow the lump, stand up and be a big girl and learn and grow from it.
These aren't mutually exclusive choices. We can pass through all three, but the best final resolution is to learn and grow from the bad reviews. Often times, the parts that sting are only opinions. If many people share that opinion, then you might have something to work on.
If it's only one person, then maybe that reviewer simply doesn't like your style or your genre or your POV choice. Or maybe the reviewer picked the book up expecting something different than what they found (as happened with the above reviewer) and, as we all know, when something doesn't meet our expectations, we feel disappointed.
These are all things out of our control. We just have to realize that we can't and won't please everyone. There will always be people who don't like our writing, our stories, our characters, even ourselves. And when we can accept that, we grow. We see things with healthier perspectives. We realize that if everyone did love us, praise us, worship all that we do, we could never improve. And if we're not growing, we're stagnate...we're dying.

So take option #3. The best part about doing this is that we acknowledge the bad reviews, we improve from them and...we can guiltlessly revel in the good ones. 
Before I go roll in mine like a pig in mud, I just want to point out that this isn't just about published books getting "expert" reviews. Aren't crit partners, agents and editors just early reviewers? You get a WiP back from a critter covered in red and cringe, but you can grow from it and your book will be better for it. Rejections from agents and editors are nearly the same thing as a bad review. A couple differences: 1) you can't make changes once published; and 2) reviews are public.
We never stop feeling the fear (and reality) of rejection, my lovelies. Our success lies in the way we handle it all. So what do you do?


  1. *hugs* Good topic to post on.

    I only get reviews from stuff I post on, so I don't know how it is to be published and reviewed. But I have had both positive and negative criticism. There was one that I didn't like the tone of but most the criticism I actually agreed with. But the biggest one is one I almost responded to. I had a person comment about a section of a story and it was all things they didn't like. I almost emailed them back, but not because I disagreed with them or wanted to argue any points. I was curious about something. They commented on section 5 of 7 since it was a story done for a short story writing class. I had no idea if they'd read the first parts of the story or not and just wanted to know that detail.

    I'm not sure how I'll respond to published book critiques. I can handle the bad of the current because they are first or slightly edited drafts at this point. But thanks to art classes in college, I think I'm okay at handling criticism. (Drawing 1 was brutal.)

  2. I'm over here because your writing inspires me. See, so take the good and enjoy it! Right now when it comes to bad reviews I have rhino skin. They roll right on off and you're right, most of the time the bad reviews are about something that is just opinion and you probably wouldn't have changed it if you could've. One bad review I got was because the reader wanted something to happen that won't happen until the next book in my series. Luckily they're hanging on the edge of their seat waiting for that second book. ;-)

  3. Great post, great advice. And congrats on the great reviews. :)


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