As a first time author, I have to admit I'm torn over whether to read reviews or not. Last October I attended a writer's conference, *Imaginarium, where the resounding advice was: "Don't read your reviews. Let your friends read them and give you the highlights." Writers, editors, and publishers alike gave that advice. At the time it seemed sound. It still does.
Yet, I know the value of reviews. In my own life, I've used reviews of movies, books, hotels, restaurants, etc to help guide my purchasing decisions. An insightful evaluation, whether positive or negative, is a useful tool. However, when the comments are about something you wrote or produced, the value and impact of them become quite different.
Let's be honest, it's nice to read all the good things people wrote. It's more than that, it's down right heady. Anything positive said can reassure that part of my muse which is always plagued by self-doubt and harsh self-criticism. Knowing people liked my story, the world I built, and the characters I shared gives me energy as I work on my current project.
The flip-side though, is the more critical reviews, no matter how constructive or instructive, can suck the wind right out of me. There's a danger there in obsessing over what people didn't like, or felt was lacking. It can feed the negative shade that haunts my muse making it all to easy to grab a bag of Dortitos and binge watch the Syfy channel rather than write. Hence, one of the reasons to avoid reviews.
Still, no matter how personally I might be affected by them, reviews really aren't about me. They are about the people who wrote them. Reviewers took the time, not only to read a book, but to write down what they thought about it and share it with the world. I respect that, a lot.
Reviewers are writers too. Writing and posting a review takes time and effort, while at the same time making the poster vulnerable as well. I mean honestly, when they put their opinions out there some people are going to agree with then, some aren't, but mostly others are going to use them as a gauge as to whether or not they want to take a chance on a book.
So, whether or not a review is favorable, I honestly have to say I do appreciate the comments. I truly am grateful for them, all of them. I am deeply grateful to those who took the time to share their thoughts and reactions.
*PS If you are anywhere near the Louisville area, I highly recommend Imaginarium. It's a great conference whether you are an aspiring writer, a published author, a publisher, or editor!
It's an old adage, but it's true. The hardest part about writing, is writing. For one, it's difficult finding the time. Like most writers, I have a full-time job. So, I have to balance my writing life with work, family, and social commitments. At the end of the day, plopping my butt in front of the laptop to muddle my way through the complicated love life of my heroes seems more than daunting; especially when I have two cats who'd rather I sit in the recliner so they can snooze comfortably in my lap.
Still, sleeping cats are an obstacle which can be overcome thanks to something called a “can opener.” However, then there is the blank page, that imposing sight of white expectation. I'm sure I have nothing new to offer on the concept writer’s block. For me it’s staring stupidly at my laptop while characters and ideas collide so hard in my head blocking any meaningful attempt to pour forth a coherent spattering of words. Writer's block is more like a sitting quietly at the end of the table during Thanksgiving and listening to both sides of the family squabble about who said what at last year's dinner. At some point everyone will get hungry enough to settle down and say grace, but until then it’s just noise with nothing meaningful said.
However, writing is an act of persistence. You can't do it without pushing past the distractions, the writer's block, and the ever present self-doubt. It's part of the process, and when you do, that's the where the fun begins. That's when you have those moments where you can hear your characters as if they are whispering, or sometimes shouting, in your ear. Those are those times when ideas pop so unexpectedly and magically, you laugh aloud startling the dozing cat on the edge of your desk. It's when you can't imagine wanting to do anything else.
Yet, that becomes the hardest part of all. Once you step away from those pages which almost seem to write themselves and left you feeling you could do this forever, you need to hang on to the memory of those moments. You need to have faith you’ll write like that again, because it all starts over from one sitting to the next. The work of writing isn’t writing. It’s all you have to do leading up to it.