It’s strange. Out of the twenty or so short stories I’ve published, I’ve never had the desire to look for reviews. I was just happy my story was out there. But when my own novel came out, it was a different kettle of opinions altogether. Did people like it? Did they hate it? Part of me wanted to know. Part of me really didn’t.
Why did my friend tell me not to read the reviews?
Because you can’t please everyone. Because sometimes people want to be mean because they think it makes them look like reviewers to take seriously. Because sometimes people are simply cruel. Because sometimes they aren’t cruel, but they’re terribly honest, and that can still hurt. Because many seem to forget there’s a real person behind that book, who is devastated by a one star review that tears apart their work. Because for all the good ones, there’s a bad one that sticks to you like old gum.
Because you must have thick skin, and mine is like wet tracing paper.
But still…I knew a particular writing magazine had reviewed it. So I promised myself I would only look at that one…
They shredded my book. They got some things so wrong I’m not actually sure they read it, or if they thought it was a different book entirely.
I didn’t write again for over a month. I know it’s one person’s opinion, as all reviews are. And three months later I’m writing again, though it shook my confidence and humbled me to my alphabetic roots. My friend was right.
Don’t read the reviews. Write because you love to write and want your story out in the world. Get better with every book. Work at it. Leave the opinions of your book to the other folks who want to read their opinions.
She warned me.