Criticism hurts. Especially public criticism. But let’s be frank here, shall we? Public criticism is part of the writer’s life. Bad reviews happen all the time, and learning how to survive the pain is part of the game.
Here are a few tips on how to deal constructively with every writer’s nightmare – critics who give us bad, bad, really bad reviews:
by Pamela Jane
You know the feeling—the shock, the shattering pain, the sick sensation in the pit of your stomach. A reviewer has just demolished your book and you feel stunned, attacked, and ashamed.
Make no mistake; you have just been very publicly humiliated.
“Newspapers last forever! I will regret this forever!” the famous movie star, Anna Scott (Julia Roberts) cries in Notting Hill when the paparazzi snap photos of her and William Thacker, half-dressed. Thacker (Hugh Grant) responds by asking her for a “normal amount of perspective.”
But those were newspapers. One can imagine them yellowing, burning or, as Thacker suggests, lining waste paper bins.
But the cloud really is forever; the cloud is eternal.
Recently, after a blistering review of his new novel, a friend sent me an email with the subject line “I’m going to Jump off a bridge.” I knew exactly how he felt. (I also knew he was not going to jump off a bridge.) But the incident brought back the pain of a bad review I received years ago, words that seared into me like fire.
t was my second children’s novel for Houghton Mifflin; my first book with them had sold well and received sterling reviews Now my new book was being destroyed by small, sharp stones hurled by a faceless librarian hiding in a cubby hole (I imagined). She described my main character, who I had imbued with my own heart and soul, as “extreme and poorly characterized.” As far as she was concerned, the book was better suited for – well, lining trash cans.
Over thirty books and dozens of published essays later, I have gained a normal amount of perspective regarding reviews, both good and bad. And, to think, it only took thirty-five years!
Below are five tough tips for surviving the hurt, anger, and humiliation generated by a rotten review.
And I promise it won’t take you thirty-five years to master them….