Just keep smiling
Yesterday I received my first one-star review for Dragon Wraiths. Aside from being aggrieved at the effect on my average rating, because I still don’t have many reviews, I was okay about it because the reviewer said ‘not my style’. Fair enough.
But, as if one-star reviews are buses, low and behold there’s another one today.
And this one’s a proper attack from someone who has read the book (as they’re quick to point out, possibly in retaliation to the five-star reviewer who reviewed while still reading.)
I’m obviously a bit low about it, but only because I’ve inadvertently wasted hours of a person’s life (as they were also quick to point out!). I’m appreciative that they read my novel to the end – I certainly wouldn’t have done if I’d disliked a book as much. And I’m grateful for the honest feedback. I’ll particularly take note of the bit that suggests the climate change theme is preachy and inaccurate.
But I’m not devastated by the review.
Hard to be sad here: The Mill House at Sacrewell Farm
Which isn’t like me at all. Lost keys or finding a typo can leave me sobbing. I’ve been trying to work out why I’m not upset. I think some of it comes from the fab support I got on my Facebook page in response to the first low review. There are other factors too: Partly it’s because I’ve come to believe in my writing, partly because I’ve thought books and films were awful and been in the minority, and partly because at least it got a reaction. At least someone bothered to tell me what they thought.
Surely every artist wants to know what the world thinks of their work, good and bad.
Not that I want every person who buys or downloads a free copy of my book to leave a one-star review. But at least this person bothered to give a reason, unlike some of my one-star reviews on Goodreads. Now that is annoying. I cannot learn and grow as a writer if I can’t accept criticism, and I certainly can’t learn what to fix if no one tells me what’s wrong in the first place.
Ironically I’ve never been strong enough to join a critique group, because my low self-esteem hears critique of my writing as an attack on me as a person. Having such an attack come from someone who doesn’t know me at all makes it much easier to keep the two separate.
Besides, I was also nominated for a Very Inspiring Blogger Award today, (thank you astridcook.com) and, as an author, you take the good with the bad and Just Keep Writing…
Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:
“Morning, sleepy head.”
Claire turned towards the noise and prised open sticky eyes. Kim was standing beside the bed, a cup of tea in one hand, a plate of toast in the other.
“I thought you might be hungry, as you said you didn’t eat dinner yesterday.” Kim slid the cup and plate on the bedside table, then perched on the edge of the bed.
“How are you feeling this morning? How’s the wrist?”
Claire wriggled upright, blinking her eyes into focus. “How are you so fresh and awake? What time is it?”
“It’s around 11am.”
“What?” Claire jerked, as if to leap out of bed. Kim held out a restraining hand, and smiled.
“Shhh don’t get up. It’s fine, you needed sleep. Sleep is the best healer.”
“Kim, I haven’t slept in until lunchtime in years.” Well, not without an incentive to stay in bed at any rate.
“You’ve had an accident, you need to rest.” She tilted her head, and grinned. “Besides, I need you awake to discuss wedding plans with me later. My concern is purely selfish.”
Claire looked up at her friend, noticing for the first time the blonde roots showing through the bright red hair. As if sensing her scrutiny, Kim put a hand to her head and smiled sheepishly.
“I had to stop dying it, when I found out I was pregnant. Looks like I’m going to have to wear a wig after all. Not sure what I’m going to do for the wedding. I can’t decide whether to get a blonde wig and look like me, or get you to pin it up so the roots don’t show.” Kim stopped abruptly. “Sorry, I’m wittering on again. I talked your ear off last night, when you arrived, didn’t I?”
Claire shook her head, hoping it seemed sincere. She reached for her tea, to mask any expression on her face that might give her away.
“I did, I know. I’m sorry. It’s just I seem to be bottling words at the moment. There’s so much going on in my life, in my head, and Jeff isn’t here all that much. We’re in rehearsals stage at work, so there’s no time to chat…” She trailed off, as if unwilling to explain her need to talk with yet more words.
“What about your Mum, can you talk to her? Not that it isn’t nice to talk to you.” Claire’s words slurred with tiredness, and she took another gulp of hot tea.
“I don’t really feel comfortable talking to Mum. I know she isn’t thrilled about the pregnancy, and the wedding being all rushed.”
“I thought it was Jeff’s parents insisting you get married before the baby arrives.” Claire cradled the mug and let the steam warm her face.
“They didn’t insist, we guessed. No one has really said anything, it’s all just dark looks and sharp intakes of breath.”
Claire tried to remember Kim’s parents. From what she could recall, Kim had a great relationship with them. Much more open and loving than hers. She remembered hearing Kim’s mother call, ‘I love you’ as Kim ran in to school. Kim would yell her answer over her shoulder, long hair flying, face bright with joy. I don’t think I’ve ever told my parents I love them, or heard them say it to me.
“Maybe you need to sit and have a good chat with your Mum. She doesn’t seem the disapproving type. Perhaps she’s worried about saying the wrong thing, or getting in your way, over-stepping the mark. It must be tough for her, too.”
Kim stared at the floral duvet cover, a crease between her brows. The girls sat silent for a few moments, the only sound the slurp of Claire’s tea.
Kim’s sudden words made Claire jump, and she was thankful the mug was empty.
“I need to call her. I don’t want to plan this wedding, or have this baby, without my Mum. Will you excuse me?”
Claire nodded, envious of Kim’s decisiveness. Her friend disappeared from the room, leaving Claire to eat her cold toast alone.