When Bad Reviews Happen to Good People

Writing is hard, and those of us who take it seriously spend hours at our computers, laughing at the irony of our characters or blubbering over their sad fates. We put words to our imagination, and explain the world as we see it so that others can share the insight that is uniquely ours. Driven by a passion we seldom understand, we live within our stories. We fret over every plot point. We revise until we’ve squeezed all of our energy and intellect onto the page.

In the rare moments when we’re not writing, we dream of swarms of fans expressing words of adoration. We love you, Ursula. We dream of the joy we would feel knowing that someone understands how much we suffered to craft a few words solely for their entertainment. You changed our lives.

Finally, weary and emotionally spent, we present our stories to the public.

We impatiently wait for reviews, too anxious to eat and too distracted to work. Time passes, and we wonder why no one has posted a review. We wonder if we’re unworthy. We battle negative thoughts as we sit at our computers, staring at wordless pages and the strings of sad faced emojis we typed.

Finally, when the reviews come in, we read them in a single breath. If they’re good, we rejoice. If we’re lucky, they’re all good, but sometimes they’re not. Our hearts sink over phrases such as contrived ending, stiff characters, and the dreaded, predictable plot.

We can’t go on. It’s too hard. We’ll never write again.

We want to respond and tell our reviewers they misconstrued our meanings. We want to tell them we worked too hard to deserve anything but kind words. We say nothing. We just try to understand the reviewer’s perspective, for maybe they’re right. Maybe what we wrote isn’t perfect. Every reader is valuable, and we should be glad they took the time to respond. Even harsh words show that our writing has elicited a reaction. We try to be brave, and it hurts.

We shake off the gloom and depression with a drink, sex, and chocolate, not necessarily in that order.

The next morning, an idea comes to mind and we run to our computers. We laugh at the rush of words as our fingers fly over the keyboards. We’re writing again.

After all, it’s what we do.

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A retired engineer, Ursula Wong writes about strong women. Her award-winning debut novel, Purple Trees, and her second novel, Amber Wolf, portray strong women struggling against impossible odds to claim a better life.
Sign up for her popular Reaching Readers blog on her website: http://ursulawong.wordpress.com.

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