Monday, February 20, 2012

Green Eyed Monster

Happy President's Day! The girls are out of school, and if we were in south Louisiana, we'd be in the middle of celebrating Mardi Gras! Very distracting; I'll keep it short.

I was thinking about those negative reviews on Goodreads, and then I was thinking about competition in general.

My mind went down this rabbit hole after I encouraged a bloggy friend who's going out on submissions with a YA science fiction book.

I'm about to return to finishing my own YA sci-fi come March, and I told our bleep something like this: "I hope your book flies off the charts so sci-fi gets hot again."

I was only partly joking. Of course, I want her to do well because she's great, but it's good for all of us when fellow writers do well.

It pumps more cash into the system, gets more people buying and reading books, which in turn allows more deals to be made.

Sometimes in traditional publishing it feels like that day will never come, but I do everything in my power to resist feeling negative as I wait. Because--it's good for all of us when fellow writers do well.

I've got a head cold, so I'm probably not connecting the dots very well... This relates to those nasty Goodreads reviews because I heard it proposed that perhaps they stem from a feeling of, "Why this book and not mine?"


If that's the case, my heart goes out to the authors targeted. You can't fight jealousy.

Personally, I'd like to think I've made it past being insecure about my writing. Heck, I've written for newspapers, magazines, professional journals, educational materials... closing in on 20 years now.

But there's a layer in news. I'm removed. If someone doesn't like what I wrote, well, sorry. That's just what happened. I'm only the messenger.

Two years ago I started creative writing. I started making this stuff up. It comes from my brain, and part of it's invested with my heart.

And when someone says it stinks, that hurts.

Guess what? I have to suck it up and get over it. Because that's what we do as professionals, regardless of the profession.

But they didn't get the point.

Who said they would? Learn and do better.

But they're misinterpreting what I said!

Then maybe you didn't say it correctly, or maybe they're hearing it through their lens, or maybe they're just nutcases.

But I have to make them understand!

And no, that's where you're wrong. Because you will never make them understand.

Now they're just being mean.

So what did you expect? Kid gloves?

*

What I'm trying to say is as authors, we have to ignore the negative stuff. As much as it hurts. And if you're the one acting out of envy, see that part up there about how one's success helps us all.

Work hard, keep swimming, and  your time will come. It will.

Have a great week, reader- and writer-friends! I'll be back Thursday with a good book review~ <3


40 comments:

Laura Pauling said...

I loved Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma. I totally got it and understood that it was almost like a tall tale. When I looked at the reviews, the book got some 3 stars and from the complaints I could tell that some people clearly didn't understand why some unexplained stuff happened. Perfect example.

Sarah said...

Recently I read a sample from a YA book that has pretty decent reviews, some of which rave about the writing, and I was completely turned off by it. Writing and storytelling are so very subjective once you get to a certain level. However, I think it matters how you write a review (and I don't. I analyze some books on my blog, but I don't do GR reviews and never will). If it's phrased "calmly", in a civil tone, with some specifics behind it, to me, it reads as more "valid" than the ones that are the opposite.

Jessica Bell said...

Your head seems to be on straight despite the head cold! :) I've read some horrendous Goodreads reviews. Makes me really wonder why people bother. If they hated the book so much, why did they waste their time bashing it? It's beyond me ...

Chris Fries said...

Brilliant blog with a wonderful message, Leigh!

Reviews are simply opinions, and you know what they say about opinions -- like elbows and [posterior orifices], we all got 'em.

No writer can please everyone, but if we please at least a FEW, we're successful. Reaching down to the lowest common denominator to TRY and please as many as possible only dilutes and destroys our work, I think. Be true to yourself, trust your vision, and write what YOU enjoy, in the best way you can.

Everything else is basically out of our control -- we can't control other people's tastes and whims and fancies, so don't even try...

Old Kitty said...

Happy President's Day! Happy Mardi Gras Day! Yay!

Aww but you are not feeling well so do rest and get better!!

It's always good to ignore adversity!

Oh but I do have a writerly friend being stalked by some NASTY reviewer on Amazon and others. This horrid creature (doesn't even have the guts to leave his or her full name!) even leaves derogative remarks to those reviewers giving my friend positive reviews. It's disheartening to say the least - but that's the double edged sword of the internet. It's great but it's also so open to abuse.

It's difficult isn't really?

If I didn't know my friend, I'd say writers should grow thick thick skins and to suck it up and take it like an adult - but then this happens and it becomes completely scary and upsetting - cricitism masquerading as downright abuse.

Take care
x

Pat Hatt said...

I just block it out and keep on going, or I make fun of them if I know they are only doing it out of jealousy or some crap of the like. Negative will come at some point, just have to keep on going.

Lydia Kang said...

It's true--it's good for everyone, for the industry, when people have good news. But it can be hard.

Meredith said...

So, so true. There's no point dwelling on the negative stuff. We just have to keep doing what we're doing and improving. And avoid jealousy whenever possible. :)

Adrienne said...

This post is full of great points! I've always been a people pleaser, so getting over thay desire to make everyone like what I've written has been difficult. Some people will be nice, some people will be inexplicably mean. Hope you feel better!

Matthew MacNish said...

I've been avoiding goodreads since the recent blow up. I don't get anything out of it, so I don't have time for it.

Colene Murphy said...

Nope, you totally make sense! (hope you feel better soon though!) It's hard to not be competitive, but you're right. Success for them doesn't automatically mean no success for you. Which I don't think people understand all the time. And attacking someone's writing doesn't make you look good, either. You can not like something and say so in a tactful way (don't ask me to, I suck at tact, but I know it can be done!) and that's okay. Opinions are opinions. But the rudeness that I've seen, is just bizarre to me and totally unprofessional. This isn't high school. Put the claws and name calling away writers...Just because you didn't like it doesn't mean it sucks.

Hart Johnson said...

I think in some cases it IS jealosy, and think the people who get jealous tend to be earlier in process--those of us who've been at this a while appreciate the differences in style, that not everything is for everybody, that some people jump in too soon, but cruelty doesn't help.

I am completely with you that the more good books there are, the better it is for all of us.

LTM said...

@Laura--see? Different strokes, right? And I like to keep in mind how long it takes to make a book compared to how long it takes to read a book. If people like a style, they're going to want more of it. They need us! :D

@Chris--Thanks! And you're right--both about the opinions and the pleasing. If we're focused on pleasing everyone, we might become good, but will we ever be great? Or groundbreaking? :o)

DL Hammons said...

Just like its unfortunate they'll let anyone have a baby...they'll also let anyone have an opinion. You can't pay attention to the specifics...the real highs OR the real lows. The only thing to be learned is from the average. On the whole, are the reviews positive. Nothing good can come from getting down in the weeds.

Carole Anne Carr said...

We all make this mistake - expecting people, often people who are struggling authors in their own right, to be experienced critiques of our work.

Carolyn Abiad said...

I agree, and when you keep working hard on whatever you're doing, you won't have time for the critics anymore.

Elle Strauss said...

So well said Leigh!

Like someone wise once said, "He who compares himself amongst himself is not wise."

Easier said than done.

Amy L. Sonnichsen said...

Great post. This journey is such a roller coaster-- slow climbs, steep plunges, dips and pauses. And all the while, it is hard not to keep your eye on other people's courses and wonder why they're so much farther ahead than you, or how they ever passed you up! lol. Yes, we keep swimming, you're right. Hang in there, Leigh! (And feel better soon.)

DEZMOND said...

but you shouldn't always ignore the negative stuff, in 88% of cases those are actually advices to get better not criticism :)

M Pax said...

Hope you feel better soon, Leigh. Happy Mardi Gras, Presidents Day and don't forget Patsgiving. :)

Some folks are just nasty is what I think. Also, if you look at books heralded as classics, a lot of those have lousy reviews, too. Chalk it up to not your audience and move on. Concentrate on the great reviews.

I hope to read both of yours sci-fi books very soon and hope you're hugely successful.

Tracy Jo said...

Amen! You can't please everyone all of the time...right?! We do just have to keep going. It is like this in every industry - I feel thankful that at least now, I have my own creative control. It is the same with my photography...some people dig it, some people don't. As hard as it is, we can't let the negative/toxic people win. Right on, Nemo!

N. R. Williams said...

I haven't seen the negative reviews but I did suffer one from a fellow writer. After the shock of it, I did some research and saw that his book had nothing but negative reviews. You are so right about jealousy. And it does hurt, even if you have convinced yourself that it doesn't. As for me, if I don't like something, I don't review it or I mention that I didn't care for they way such and so was handled but it is still an enjoyable or something similar read. Karma, ya know.
Nancy

Lynda R Young said...

I particularly love your statement that an author's success helps everyone. So true!

Jay Noel said...

I'm dealing with the issue from the other side - I have a good blogger buddy that wants me to review her book.

And I felt awful as I read her book - it was terrible! So I'm screwed if I give a positive review, as I lose credibility to others who read it and wonder just what I was smoking. It's a tough tightrope to walk.

Theresa Milstein said...

This post resonates with me. It's not just frustrating about my manuscripts when I read mediocre books and wonder why I didn't get a shot. I've had writer friends who should have books on the shelves. But it's up to all of us to write the best books we can and keep writing. And hope. Lots of that.

Monica B.W. said...

Thanks for the inspiring post! Let's keep swimming, girl! <333

Jen Daiker said...

The more you let the negative creep in the more your writing suffers. If you listen too much you tweak things that weren't meant to be tweaked.

Write for you. Then write for others. Someone will always hate, the point is to ignore them.

Fabulously inspiring post. LOVED IT.

Kelly Polark said...

I totally agree that it helps all of us when writers do well.

You have to take the negative reviews with a grain of salt. You cannot please everybody. Not even top selling authors do.

Great post!

Talli Roland said...

I love this post. I've had some real humdinger (yes, I did just use that word) of reviews - one which said I was a disgrace to my genre and I should stop writing (see? I remember every word). Since that review, I have stopped looking at EVERY SINGLE Goodreads rating I receive -- I scan them periodically, but I don't obsess like I used to. The negative ones hurt but not like they used to, but it's easy to become embroiled in negativity and forget the joy that comes from writing.

And I tell myself the same thing when I see a book in my genre selling so well - even if I am raging with jealousy: it's good for the genre; it shows it's still viable, and there is room in the market for all of us.

D.G. Hudson said...

Liked your motivating post.

I don't like the public review sites, mainly because of their inability to monitor its use. If I review something, it's on my blog.

Hope you feel better soon.

LTM said...

@Monica--you know it, girl! You're the best~ :o) <3

@DG--Hey, thanks! I follow that rule about only posting reviews for things I really liked also. But I really do appreciate honest, helpful reviews--positive and not so positive. We need the honesty, just not the hate. Yes? <3

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I hope you feel better soon!!

And I agree 1000% that the successes help us all (one reason I cheer so hard for Beth Revis - she IS making SF respectable for YA!! *fist pump*). As for Goodreads poor reviews, I think sometimes people can't stay out of the scrum, which is really too bad. So much wasted energy. *shrugs* *goes to get a cookie*

Anita Grace Howard said...

You had me at rabbit hole. Hee.

Awesome post! You hit the nail on the head w/this: "You will never make them understand." You might even go one step further and say: "You will never make EVERYONE understand." But odds are, you will get through to some. Those who were made to read and love your work.

Oh, and I don’t plan to read all of my reviews at all. It's not that I'll react to them publicly, but I'm afraid it might clog up my writing process. I plan to have my beta readers and crit partners filter out the bad ones and send me the good ones. I'm a wimp. :)

Stephen Tremp said...

I stopped listening to what people say about me a long time ago. Well, I try to. I can usually move forward and glean something constructive. But occassionally someone says something that pierces the heart and can really hurt.

lbdiamond said...

EXCELLENT POST! It's so true; writing and reading is subjective...it DEFINITELY hurts when people hate it, but, well, you're right; you just gotta shrug it off and get back in the game.

Janet Johnson said...

I totally agree NTM! It's good for all of us when a book does well. I best of luck finishing that Sci-fi in March. I know you won't miss a day of writing, will you? Bwa, ha, ha!

LTM said...

@LBD--That's right! Just keep swimming, and know there's a reader for every writer~ :o) <3

D.B. Smyth said...

"you will never make them understand"... good advice in writing and in life. I only have so much energy and I can waste it try to make everyone see things my way or I can invest it into my writing and into people who matter to me. Thanks for this light-bulb moment! I needed your post!

Now... if I can just make this thought process turn into action...

Pk Hrezo said...

So true. I've heard some just dont read the bad reviews. I can see how that'd make sense. Not every story is for everyone. We just have to find those who do like the work, and make them our focus.

LTM said...

@PK--You said it all there! I do think constructive feedback can be a great help. But if it's just a hater, let it go~ ;p <3