I am a special kind of sensitive. I am what you might call a people pleaser. When I was a child if I did something bad, I often put myself in my bedroom before my parents could. All my caring father had to do was raise his voice in anger and I would burst into uncontrollable sobbing. And I never once received a detention or suspension. I cannot stand if I displease someone or they are unhappy with me. It makes my stomach churn, my pits sweat (thank you extra-strength deodorant) and my mind lock up. I’ll do anything I can to make it right.
So, when I read bad reviews, a kind of self-loathing blackness descends. Let’s look at a few, just for self-torture’s sake. These are for The Breeders and Nessa: A Breeders Story. (Not that you’ll likely want to buy them after reading these.)
“I wish I could give this zero stars. I just could not get into this book. I wanted to, but it was just not well written.”
“...as I get about 40% in I see some almost racist typecasting and it makes me disgusted that the author felt the need to do such a thing. It almost appears as though mexicans, native americans or even arabic muslims* are being depicted as barbaric and evil people. The use of language that the author uses for the Riders is blatant and I am almost regretting that I paid her money for this.”
“What a worthless story. Usually I find these stories add or clarify something from the main book. This did not. I'm not sure what the point of it was. And it was RIFE with errors. It's only 39 pages! Give me a break.”
Yeah. Bring on the chocolate and sweatpants. I’m going to bed.
In all seriousness, we all need to learn to adapt to rejection. Writing, like other creative pursuits, invites critics. We ASK people to review and openly critique our work on view for the world. So, what do we do to handle it? Here are some of my unproductive rejection-fighting techniques.
1) Curl up into a ball, curse my life and decide I’m a brainless dolt who’d do better writing copy for laundry detergent bottles.
2) Imagine slow, painful torture to those who oppose me. Search through their reviews for spelling errors and laugh heartily when I find them.
3) Watch a lot of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Drink.
Then, when I want to come out of my funk, I try these.
1) Hit the gym. Pump some butt-kicking music (i.e. Kelly Clarkson, Avril Lavigne and the like). Run until I feel like a person again. Punch something, hopefully a bag.
2) Reread the good reviews. Force myself to believe that all these people were not all drinking the same hallucinatorily upbeat Kool-aid.
3) Watch more It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Drink.
Either way, my motto is never give up. Write until those critics have nothing to say. Write until they have to admit that your next book wasn’t so “eh” after all. Just write. In the end, it’s all about how fulfilled I, not my critics, feel at the end of the day.
So, what about you? What do you do to kick rejection in the hiney?