Bracing for Reviews…

I used to publish one to four books a year.  After a pretty traumatic series of circumstances, I stopped writing altogether.  I’ve only had one new book in the last five years.  Part of the reason I stopped writing is that I was getting criticized so much in my real life, I couldn’t take the online ugly reviews. Writing used to be my escape and it simply stopped being fun. It’s hard to be kicked when you’re down, so why volunteer for it?

Bad reviews are part of every creative’s life.  You can’t please everyone and now that reviewers can hide behind a keyboard, the personal attacks (on you the artist, not the product) can be relentless.  There was a day when I didn’t care what reviewers said because I was in a good place and knew why I wrote the book. I told myself, “Okay, not for that reader.  Next.”

But I’ve been working on one book since 2014.  It’s been brewing that long and it’s nearly finished.  It’s set up to be a series of five books so part of what took me so long was building the world for the other characters to play in later. I plan to release, “Room at the Top” in the Summer of 2020 (world’s worst year!) and I hope it will bring a smile to my readers. I’m mustering my courage to come back after my readers have moved on to different writers.  That’s a lot of pressure. Old dog, new tricks, and all that.

Brene Brown, who struggles with vulnerability, quotes Teddy Roosevelt in her book, “Daring Greatly.”  She states that people who criticize don’t really have the right to do so since they’re not even in the game. And while true, it will never stop critics. Some people — it’s just in their nature to be displeased.  I mean, even when they’re getting a book for free.  (Do they know they can stop reading it?  That’s what I do.)

The quote:

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly…who at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails by daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

I don’t generally read my reviews anyway, but I’m braced for them — good and bad.  Today, I was watching “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” on television (thank you lockdown.)  I was thinking about how Angel Clare is the hero of that book, but also the villain as he represents Victorian England and he destroys Tess completely.  On a recent review of the book, someone wrote, “The real villain of this book is Thomas Hardy for writing it.”  Ouch. Dissed nearly 100 years after his death — still, the bad reviews play on…by people who are not in the arena. Hardy was a genius who is buried in Poet’s Corner of Westminster Abbey. I wonder what the reviewer’s literary credentials are.

Incidentally, Thomas Hardy stopped writing fiction after the heinous reviews on “Jude the Obscure.” He took to poetry after that.

I’m a terrible poet, so I’ll stick with Chick Lit/Women’s Fiction — but I’m ready! It’s time to get back in the game!0

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11 Responses to Bracing for Reviews…

  1. juliearduini says:

    I was in my 30’s before I even dared to think I could write for publication. Once God removed that fear from me, I had a mentor tell me to have “the heart of a dove and the skin of a rhino.” When my first bad review came, the person was very nice about it. What made me laugh (not at her, but at how far God had brought me) was when she said the worst part was she hit purchase twice and was stuck with two of my books she didn’t want. I survived that with a laugh. God is good. I can’t wait for your release!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kristin says:

      I started writing very young and was too naive to be fearful. (Thank God!) That came later. I don’t know why it started to bug me more in old age, but it did. I do love that skin of a rhino business, it’s very true. We never know where someone has been and why certain words will affect them — in either good ways or bad. So we have to do the work and let it go. Thanks for the reminder!


  2. Way past time, Kris. Room at the Top is the best one yet! Ignore all reviews. Unless their mine, of course.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. And misspelled they’re. Wow. I need to edit myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s a FABULOUS story! Readers are going to love it!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Vicki Hinze says:

    Kristin, early on especially, I had to remind myself that even the best review is one subjective opinion. We can never know how people will respond. That was a hard lesson. But when I’d accepted it as truth, I decided to give bad reviews (or rejection letters) five minutes. I could emotionally react in that time. Then read them and look for jewels. If they’re there, embrace them. If not, forget them.

    We take in things that are out of our control too deep. And yet the books always find those who needed them at that point in their lives. Different paths, different points, different approaches, different needs.

    If the reviews really trouble you, don’t read them. Trust your book will find the readers who most need to hear what it has to say. And be joyful about your writing. You’re very good at it. This is a gift meant to be shared, and will be embraced by the perfect people in the perfect time.

    Blessings to you and every success on your works.


  6. Nancy J. Farrier says:

    Kristin, I look forward to reading your book. I’m so glad you are writing again.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Shirley Strait says:

    I am so glad you are writing again. I have enjoyed your books in the past and look forward to reading your work again.
    Shirley Strait

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I understand where you are coming from, for sure. Every writer has had reviews that hurt. They have no idea how much heart we put into our books. As Christian writers, I would venture to say most of us follow the Lord’s lead when we write. So we should have nothing to regret, knowing that we were seeking to honor God with our writing. I am sure your book is going to be fabulous. Looking forward to reading it! 🌹

    Liked by 1 person

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