Today has been a bad day. I woke up to this review of my book ‘Small Kindnesses‘, encouragingly titled ‘I’ve never read a book like this’:
“I am amazed that there are so many good reviews of this book. It is utter drivel, I can’t describe it as anything else. It is highly padded out and extremely clumsily written. Much of it struck me as inappropriate. The main character, Leonard, was selfish, insensitive and really rather repugnant.
It was the worst book I have read in a long time. With all that there is to choose from, I would give this one a wide berth.”
I tried to remember how I can be delighted at bad reviews. I failed.
I tried to get on with my writing. I failed.
I shared it on Facebook and lots of people said lovely things. It still hurt.
Drivel. Clumsily written. Repugnant. Ouch.
Reviews don’t hurt me very often. This one felt mean. This one felt personal. This one made me feel upset for my character, Leonard, who I am inordinately fond of. I know, he’s not a real person. But he kind of is.
And then we found that water has been getting in through our flat roof which needs to be replaced immediately at great expense, and various other disappointing and annoying and upsetting thing happened. You know how life is.
It’s a funny old life, being a writer. Our books goes out into the world like our babies, and then other people tell us exactly what they think about them. They don’t mince their words. They sometimes find our babies extremely clumsily written.
It’s a funny old life, being a human being. We are who we are, and some people love us to death and some people find us the most annoying/self-centred/boring/awful person in the whole of England.
I think it’s okay to feel hurt. Julia Cameron told me it was okay once, in one of her books, and I believed her. We can feel our wound (ouch! ouch!) and give ourselves time to recover.
I think it’s also okay for me to remind myself that none of it means very much anyway. My only task is to write the best books I can write, and to be the best human being I can be (which, trust me, isn’t a very good one. But then I’m in good company.) And to get some quotes for the flat roof. Although I’m blessed with a husband who’s already done that bit.
And just now, as I prepared to write this blog, another brand new review (of my novel The Most Beautiful Thing).
“Amazing book – 2nd read. The characters are so real from the outset. I’ve laughed and cried as the story unfurls – this is a must read book.”
We don’t have to let go, we simply have to not hold on. ~ Joseph Goldstein
Thank you for listening. And now, I shall try & persuade my husband to come out with me and eat cake. (Cake is very good for review-wounds. You should try it.) I’m not holding on any more.
‘Another slice of black forest cake’ by 3liz4