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The Naked Page

Author Jamie Sobrato's Diary

12.19.2006

Zen and the Art of Ignoring Reviews

I've probably already blogged about this, but I'm too lazy to go back and check...

I google my own name about once a week to see if anyone is putting anything weird about me on the internet (naked photos, slanderous accusations, etc...heh). Really, that's about the only reason anymore. It used to be that I was hoping to find complimentary reviews, or morbidly curious about negative reviews, but I've finally gotten to a place where neither have much effect on me. I'm happy if I get a positive review from RT, but only for about 5 minutes. And I'm vaguely bummed if I get a negative review, but only for about five minutes.

Putting your work out there as a writer means you will either learn to have a similar neutral attitude, or you'll slowly drive yourself insane. Because ultimately, if you're going to discount the negative reviews, you have to discount the positive ones too. Really. I know, it sounds shitty, but actually it's a cool thing to realize that your opinion is the only one that should count with you in the end.

You have to reach that Zen place where other people's opinions wash over you like water. Or something. I should have a better metaphor, but I think you get the idea. You can develop this talent even before you sell by learning to feel the same about rejection letters.

Sure, an editor or agent's opinion is about a million times more important than a reviewer's, but you can't ever let yourself forget that most of the best writers in the world suffered through lots of rejection, and an editor or agent's opinion, even though it feels like it's going to make or break your career, is really still just one person's opinion, and the only things that will make or break your career are things you do yourself.

Taking this lesson to heart is one of the best gifts you can give yourself as a writer. Let go of the need for everyone else's approval and write to please yourself. Write something you can believe in, because your opinion has far more power over your writing career than anyone else's does.

And blah blah blah. I can't believe I just wrote another rah-rah motivational post. What the hell is wrong with me?

Here's something more interesting. A certain website known for harsh reviews said my second book read as if I'd written it with a gun held to my head. LOL. That comment hurt at the time, because it was probably true--that's pretty much how I felt when I wrote most of that book. I had to finish it right after 9/11 happened, while I was mostly alone in a foreign country feeling utterly devestated, missing my family and friends, and feeling like the world as we knew it had come to an end. Trust me, the last thing I wanted to be doing was writing a light, humorous romance novel. But I had to write it anyway.

Sometimes the bad reviews are true, and sometimes the good reviews are true. And it doesn't really matter. Some people really loved that gun-to-my-head book. Some people didn't. That's life. I like the book, and that's what matters to me now.

4 Comments:

At 11:30 PM, Anonymous Cindy Procter-King said...

See, this is a great post, but I have nothing of value to add, because I agree with everything you said. So I usually just read these types of posts and don't reply and go away thinking, "Man, that Jamie is smart."

Cindy
who should be asleep

 
At 9:17 AM, Blogger Jamie said...

Thanks, Cindy. :-)

 
At 10:29 PM, Blogger nss said...

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At 10:55 AM, Blogger Tim said...

Spam bloggers... gotta love 'em! :-D

 

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