I was bound to receive a negative review eventually, and I did. And I'm sure there are more to come. Not everyone is going to like my story and that's okay. But I won't lie, reading my first really awful review was gut wrenching! So of course I reached out to my close friends and whined, told them how this woman shredded my book. And one of my friends replied, "Was it constructive feedback?" Hmmm... Constructive? I read through the painful review again.
The answer was no. Not it the least.
This reader just didn't like the story, and went on about how she didn't understand why everyone else is giving it five star reviews. So my friend said, "Then who cares?" And she's right. If the woman had ranted about my writing style being awful, thought I couldn't string together a coherent sentence, or felt I was in any way like my least favorite author (she who shall remain nameless), then I would take offense. But not liking my story? Okay, I can deal with that.
My fear, when I released this book, was that people would attack my writing. I didn't know if I was 'good enough' but something kept driving me forward, forcing me to face my fears and put it out there. The worst review I could ever receive is I have no business writing! And while my story may not be to some peoples liking, no one is challenging my right to write! Some have even praised my style. I have to remember that when negative reviews rear their ugly heads.
Something I've discovered is that writing is far less about talent than it is about practice, perseverance and patience. That's all it takes to write a book. A valuable piece of advice from Stephen King, "You can only learn by doing." He's absolutely right.
I wrote my editor a note the other day, thanking him for teaching me how to write a book. I said "anyone can write a bunch of words but without structure and focus, that's all they are." Handing him my manuscript was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I opened myself up to criticism, and that's not something I...enjoy. Who does? I wrote a romance for women, and here I was giving it to a man, an Ivy League grad no less! And he did rip it apart (in a constructive way), and I took what he said and made it better. And with each draft I learned a little bit more.
Yeah, it totally sucks to read nasty comments about something I poured my heart into, but I can't let it bother me. If someone wants to offer me constructive feedback, I'm open to it. Hell! I welcome it! But not liking my story? Eh. There are much worse things in life. Like regret.