Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Worst Thing Somebody Ever Said to Me [About My Writing]

I don't really know why I'm posting this, but I've been working on searching for this message in a hoard of personal messages on a certain forum just so that I can post this, and talk about it.

Why do negative reviews get us down? I see it all the time on writing forums - people post about their "first one-star reviews". Sometimes, the writers are distraught and want to respond (even though it's in bad taste, apparently). Other times, the writers agree with the reviewer to a point. Sometimes, the reviews are just dead wrong (like complaining that they expected the book to be romance when it was erotica, when it was clearly marked 'erotica'). The point is, though, that no writer ever just shrugs off a negative review, especially when it's one of their first.

This particular "worst thing", however, was not a review of anything I have published, nor was it even something recent. This one is actually painfully general - it's not an insult against a particular piece of work, it's a slam against everything I had written up to that point.

Granted, based on who said it, it was probably said just to hurt me. So, should this little sentence even count as a slam against my writing, or a tool used to control and manipulate my emotions?

This was said to me nearly six years ago - about one year before I began work on The Dowry - in a personal message. The conversation leading up to it went something like, "We can't be honest with each other." "Oh yeah? Prove it!" The resulting reply?

"Yawn, you write pretty sucky, the only reason guys say you're a good writer is because you're given them an entrance."

Six years later, I still don't even know what that last part means. Maybe it's a variation of calling me a slut? I don't know. It's not like I was overly flirtatious at this point in my life.

But why am I posting this? I know that my "reach" is so painfully small that most of what I write hardly matters. Though I do feel that criticism, good and bad (and especially that bad) can easily get us down.

And to insult basically everything we've ever written? Ouch.

But, you're not going to wow everybody, no matter who you are. Think about something like Harry Potter - as wildly popular as the series is, not every person is a fan. They're few and far between - that, or they're hiding amongst the hardcore fans - but they're out there. 

Don't let one negative review get you down. You won't win everybody over. It's impossible.

Don't give up.

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