The Time I Almost Quit
I had a book come out that didn’t go quite as planned. When I write I put so much of myself into my work that its hard not to be attached to the finished product and so when the book got positive reviews from blogging sites in its first week out I broke my biggest rule and read the reviews. I was excited as it seemed like people loved this new book. That is an amazing high and I should have stopped there. But then the negative reviews started coming in and I couldn’t look away. Like a train wreck I watched as something I loved was torn apart. Negative reviews aren’t new to most authors and I’ve had my fair share. You have to develop a thick skin to be able to handle this business.
I followed my own advice and went back to work, finding a way to ignore the reviews and instead focusing on the kind words and the edits that my publishers were giving me. I always have deadlines and it was easy to get lost back into them and forget that reviews are opinions and I didn’t have to listen. But then I started getting messages and these weren’t so easy to ignore. My friend told me that sometimes readers seem to forget that there are people behind the books instead of unfeeling machines. The notes I was getting would not be something someone would have said to my face and yet they were coming in over email and facebook. I wanted to argue and its hard to stay silent when someone is blatantly wrong about something in a book that you love.
Fans argue over books all the time. Who should Bella have ended up with? Why did Snape have to die? These are questions that fans of these series go back and forth over. But when an author speaks up and says something of that nature it is seen as wrong and bitchy. Fine, I stayed silent. We authors need readers and reviewers. I understand the relationship and the line that authors walk. We write the stories, readers hopefully read them, and reviewers give the readers honest opinions of our work to help the readers make their buying decisions. It is a system that often works perfectly well.
But after so much negativity I considered not doing this anymore. I didn’t see the point of it when I put so much of myself into a book and got only pain in response. I quit my job and stopped going to college for my books. I wasn’t sure if it was worth it anymore.
My guy then sat down next to me as I lay crying on the bed with our dogs around me and told me that I couldn’t quit. I had to stop looking at reviews but I couldn’t quit. He had a lot of reasons and though they all made sense, there were a few things that really stuck with me. Writing keeps me sane. I need to do this and I’m lucky that I have something that I love to do and that makes me happy. I also need to be home for the dogs. They are much happier with someone at home with them. By working at home I don’t have to go out when there are eight inches of snow on the ground and I’m expected to still get to work. I get to wear lounge clothes and make big dinners all while making imaginary people fall in love.
Sometimes opening yourself up is hard. It can come with a backlash of hatred. But if its something you love to do then maybe its worth it. I had to remember to stay away from reviews. Sometimes they’re good, sometimes they’re toxic. But remembering to protect myself so that I can focus on what I love to do is the most important thing for me being able to continue writing. And in the end I write for myself. I think its wonderful when someone connects to my work. That is a great feeling and one of the highs of being an author. But I do this for me and for my family and because I have this need to get characters out of my mind to make room for new ones.