Another crop of reviews are coming in for VULNERABLE and they’re freaking me out.
I can’t read it. I can’t. I thought I was all over this, but knowing it’s out there is just freaking me out. I got a 3 star review yesterday–(one of two, now) but I had to laugh at that one–she complained about all the sex, and I’m thinking “what a way to boost sales!” Anyway, I can’t read this next one. How am I going to do this? How am I going to keep writing when this shit just ruins me? I thought my skin was getting thicker…I thought I was getting all insouciant about getting hammered by complete strangers for stuff I thought I’d already apologized for, but I’m not.
I got the 3* review yesterday–there was a student in the room. I saw that the review number had increased, and I moaned a little…right in the back of my throat. And then the physical stuff started. The palms started to sweat, my chest got tight, I had this absurd urge to cry… I HADN’T EVEN READ IT YET!!!
“What’s wrong Miz Lane?”
“Review,” I tell her briefly, and she nods her head in sympathy. That was for a 3 star review that complained about the sex.
Now that I know this one is two stars, I’ve got a class room full of kids and I know that in order to function professionally, I can’t read this dumb thing–it would wreck me for the day.
I’ve explained this to them–I’ve told them all about getting the reviews and how it terrifies me–I tell them this so they know that I understand that getting their work critiqued is not a picnic. I’m always very careful to give them a strength that they can be proud of, besides some things to work on. I’m always very careful to emphasize that this is a rough draft, that I understand that there are extenuating circumstances, and that they will have a chance to improve their work.
I can’t explain that to people reading VULNERABLE. I mean, I HAVE explained it, but now it feels like I’m whining and I can’t do that anymore. And it shouldn’t matter. I feel good about VULNERABLE. It’s my first book–there are flaws, but I think it has moved people in a really wonderful way. I think every book I’ve written gets better–that’s all you can ask for in a writer, right? I think this last book (BITTER MOON) is going to kick ass. I think the sequel to it is going to rip your heart out and serve it to you on a gorgeously colored textured ceramic platter, and make you glad you ate it, because it’s your heart.
But these things are by no means certain–and my certainty grows weaker with stupid things like a slough of crap reviews, and I wish that were not so. Men can do this. I’ve seen men get crap review after crap review, and something about the functioning of their ego works so that they just keep believing in themselves until other people do. It’s harder for women. We’re not geared that way. We’re geared to self-reflect, self-improve, self-criticize.
I hate that sometimes. I really do.