On this roller coaster of publication, writers expect to be faced with a certain amount of, let’s say, excitement. We hear the unmistakable clackety-clack-clack on the way up the ride of publishing a book. Feel the adrenaline build as we teeter on the top of the first dive. Throwing our arms high or hanging onto the bar, we plummet down, down, down picking up speed. Hairpin curves with sales, rankings, good reviews, harsh criticism, and how we will be received by our peers. It’s all part of the fun, right? Right?
This summer, the roller coaster took me by surprise by blasting me through a barrel roll. First, I received scores from a prestigious contest I did not final in. Oh, you know how this story goes. The book is either incredibly awesome or the reader would rather drink antifreeze before turning one more page. I’m usually good with that. It means that my writing has produced extreme emotional reactions. But when one of the judges not only claims the book had no satisfying ending but that it wasn’t even a love story, well, that floored me. Most of you know that I write historical romance, paranormal romance, and some erotic romance. Romance is always a central theme in my books, no matter the genre. I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around how a judge felt that the book failed to meet the requirement of a happily ever after love story. Where did I go wrong? Did I go wrong? Maybe not. I try to remember that this is just an opinion of one person and that’s okay.
But wait. Three different reviewers have given three of my books high accolades in recent days, including the one mentioned above. For them, my tales are a real pleasure to read. I should be overjoyed, busting at the seams. And I am, truly and humbly. While poking around Amazon, I stumbled across another review written several months ago that basically states my characters suck, my writing sucks, I suck. This was not a malicious attack, but rather someone who simply hated my book. Regardless, it still stings. And this is why I don’t make it a habit of reading my reviews. Then there is the personal message a reader sent to me via social media and another who emailed me just this week. Both ladies took the time to reach out to me, to say they really love my books and want more.
Round and round my emotions go. Yep – I’m a little green in the gills. I know I’m not the only one. Fellow MuseTracker Stacey has experienced the same thrills and chills. And I’m quite certain that most of our writer friends and acquaintances have, too. The stomach-dropping dips are simply part of the ride.
Stacey, a pillar in my support system, probably won’t remember this, but she once said, “You’re a creative crab.”
Imagine if you will a basket of crabs. There’s always one who tries to escape but the other crabs in the basket will keep pulling it back down to certain doom. The would-be escapee crab is the creative crab and the other crabs are critics. All this is true whether you are a newbie author or a seasoned pro. The unsavory opinion of one or two really poisons the pot. It is always that bad review or awful contest score that sticks with us, almost negating all the praise. Almost.
We shouldn’t let the critic crabs keep us down. We can climb out of their basket, yes we can. We must remember all the acclaims, successes, happy readers, and, most of all, stay true to ourselves. Dismiss the negativity, honest or otherwise, grab ahold of the rim, and pull yourself up.
Ours is a path that will surely have its ups and down, topsy-turvy flips, and bone-jerking turns. So buckle and enjoy the ride.
Anyone care for melted butter with their crab legs?