Floundering

Excuse me, but has anyone seen my kidney laying around somewhere? I’m getting eviscerated you see, and I always like to keep track of my pieces when I’m getting eviscerated so I can get myself back in order afterwards.

You know those scenes on 30 Rock where Jenna locks herself in her dressing room because her niece drew an unflattering picture of her or because her stalker forgot about her or somesuch nonsense? I have infinitely more sympathy for her now.

It turns out the old adage about never reading your own reviews is a good one. People are mean! Multiply that exponentially and then square it when those same people are on the Internet.

I bought some marketing space on a Starcraft 2 related site and at first the responses were encouraging. People were excited! I was excited! Hooray! Or so I thought.

As so often happens on Internet forums, the weather turned foul and I saw far more backhanded slaps than high fives. They insulted my writing. They mocked my plot. They even picked apart my character’s name!

Yikes. I had no idea. No. Idea.

So now I’m…floundering, to be quite honest. As someone who’s always been somewhat hesitant to let other people read my writing (not blogging writing, mind you. Obviously) to see it flayed to bits for fun is traumatizing in the worst way. I never set out to write the best book ever written. I just wanted to tell a story.

Apparently that’s abhorrent to a lot of people.

The only thing keeping me from refusing to get out of bed is Wes, funny enough. He’s made it his mission to provide proof that this is how it is for almost everyone who publishes something. Even respected, amazing writers. He won’t let me wallow, and insists that the negative comments haven’t shaken his faith in my writing at all.

I tell you, that kind of support is truly unique. If everyone had someone in their life who believed in them like Wes believes in me, I’d love to see how much could get accomplished.

As for me? Well, as badly as I want to burrow under the covers and lay there in an abject pile of misery and bad self esteem, I won’t. I’ll just keep putting one foot in front of the other and doing my darndest to ignore the comments of the faceless masses on the Internet who go after helpless books like heat-seeking missiles.

Who knows? I might even work up the courage to publish another book! Someday. Maybe when I’m 80 and senility and dementia have set in. Probably then.

9 thoughts on “Floundering

  1. Erika, while I haven’t read your book yet (I am waiting for the printed version, I hate trees), and I am sure that you put a metric buttload of work into it and it will be awesome.

    Retards on the internet are just that: retards. I know it hardly equates work-wise, but TB gets stupid ass comments all the time from people who don’t know anything about anything… and that is exactly what is happening to you.

    Read them if you must, and take some criticism and make yourself better for it… but never be down in the dumps for what some idiot says online. I could show you a video of people who were looked down upon but never gave up (MJ, the Beatles, etc) but I think you get my point.

    Think of it this way… they may have insulted you… but at least they read [and paid for] your book! So in the end, you win no matter what!

  2. Mean people suck. Especially mean people who don’t stop to think that behind that user name or author is a real live person who is experiencing that words, can most vehemently indeed, hurt as much as sticks and stones.

    Don’t let the trolls bring you down. And listen to Wes. The force is strong with him.

  3. -Matt, It’s ok, I hate trees too :) Thanks for the encouragement. If only they had bought and read my book, that would be swell! Most of them picked apart the two sample chapters I posted on my author website. Regardless, if jerks don’t like it then they don’t have to read it. I just wish they’d keep their vitriol to themselves.

    -Blanche, You make my heart smile with your talk of The Force being strong with my husband. I agree, whatever happened to the Thumper philosophy of, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”?

  4. Keep your head up woman!! You are a published FANTASTIC author!! You should be sooooooo proud of your accomplishments no matter what anyone else has to say!!! I am proud of you and truly inspired by you!!! Keep it up woman!!

  5. Wow, the fact that you already have X amount of reviews and X-1 are overwhelmingly positive is something I think you’re overlooking… this is an amazing amount of success for having this thing out for less than 3 full days! I personally know authors with half a dozen books out that have been available for more months that haven’t garnered a single review.

    You’re doing great! You put out a great product, and there isn’t a masterpiece on Earth that SOMEBODY wouldn’t give a negative review to. If this is indicative of how the rest of your writing career will go, I would be thrilled.

  6. Hi!,

    (Warning: long comment ahead)

    I’m one of those people who found out about your book via that “Starcraft 2 related site” you mention. As a preface, this comment isn’t intended as “vitriol”–I wish you nothing but the best. But I also have no vested interest in sugarcoating things, so as a warning: some of this may come off as mean. It isn’t meant to be. It’s meant to be honest.

    First off, I’ve read a ton of fiction. My taste leans literary (think New Yorker-type fiction) but I enjoy the occasional thriller as much as anyone. I am also fortunate enough to be close to several people who have gone to top graduate MFA writing programs. The competition to get into these programs is insane, and the students there are very, very good. So I have both read a lot of good writing as well as spent a lot of time around people who know how to produce it.

    That’s all to say that speaking as someone who knows, the best thing you can do for your writing is to find people who will be HONEST with you. This includes ripping apart your writing if it’s warranted (and reading your two sample chapters, it kind of is). Look: having people around you who support you is great. Awesome. You need that, everyone needs that. But ONLY having those people in your life is a recipe for failure, because you won’t have a real, honest assessment of where you stand…until you put your book out there in the marketplace, and then you’re in for a huge shock. Unfortunately, it seems like this is what happened. As great as your friends and family are, it’s unlikely that they’re the best judge of writing quality, and even if they were, you shouldn’t trust what they tell you, because they will be biased.

    So that’s the danger of friends. The marketplace is not your friend, and random people on a Starcraft website aren’t your friend. But that doesn’t mean they’re your enemy, and that doesn’t mean you should discount their opinions, as you seem to be doing right now. In fact, you should be doing the opposite. Listen to them. Their opinion is the only thing that ultimately matters, at least if you are hoping for any degree of commercial success, BECAUSE THEY ARE THE CUSTOMERS.

    What else does that mean? It means they’re not being vitriolic because they have anything against you, or they have some kind of agenda, or they’re just “retards” or “jerks” or “mean people.” Prospective customers WANT to be wowed. They want to read good work. They want a book that grabs them and holds them and makes them want to tell their friends about it. You want that too. The good news is, it entirely can happen, if the underlying product is good enough. The fact that they’ve responded poorly means they see the product you’ve offered them and they don’t like it. Simple as that. Take emotion out of the equation. Easier said than done, I know, but if you write an awesome book, they WILL respond well. That’s how things work. It’s how word of mouth works, and that’s the most powerful type of advertising you could hope for. So here’s the honest point I’m trying to make: the reason you’re getting “eviscerated” is because you simply haven’t written a book that’s good enough.

    Also, regarding “if you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all”: several related thoughts come to mind.

    1) Your skin isn’t as thick as it needs to be. Unfortunately, you’ve chosen a profession that basically revolves around criticism. People in (legitimate) writing workshops tear each other apart. Critics tear authors apart. Reviewers on Amazon tear the books they’ve read apart. It’s the nature of the business, and to survive as an author, your skin has to be thick. Read the criticism, but instead of letting it get you down, use it to improve yourself.

    2) You posted a thread advertising your book on a DISCUSSION forum. People will naturally discuss it, both the good and the bad. You use provocative language like “The best…book you haven’t read yet.” You make bold claims. Of course, that’s part of marketing, but it’s a little over the top, and you’re practically inviting people to criticize you, so you better have the writing to back it up.

    3) You put something out there into the marketplace. What did you expect? Here’s an example: If you see a bad movie, you tell your friends not to go watch it. Maybe you even post a negative review about it online. By the same token, if your friends see a bad movie, you would want them to tell you not to waste your time. It’s rational consumer behavior, and there’s nothing inherently mean-spirited about it. Your perspective regarding Pwned is simply skewed because here, you’re the producer, not the consumer. But you can’t forget where the consumers are coming from, and you can’t fault them for it.

    Anyway, that’s the criticism. Here’s the encouragement: your blog writing is good. it’s clear, direct, and each entry tells a story. Why not your fiction? I don’t what it is, but a lot of people seem to fall into this trap. Their blog writing is good, but when they want to write fiction, they flop. They try too hard. They write in passive voice. They use too many unnecessary adjectives and adverbs. They completely muck up the flow of the story with flowery descriptions of mundane things that don’t matter. I don’t know if these people do it out of misguided notion of what “good fiction” should sound like, but it almost always backfires. That’s the feeling I got, repeatedly, while reading your first two chapters. You’re trying too hard, and the writing comes off as incredibly amateur as a result. But, reading your blog (and I’ve managed to skim through about two years worth of entries), you do have some talent — it just entirely fails to come through in your fiction.

    Why is that? Good writing is good writing. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to write differently just because it’s fiction. If you were talking to someone about your day, or writing a blog entry about household chores, you might say “then I took out the trash.” You wouldn’t describe how “Aluminum cans clattered against each other, jostling for space in the tight confines of the bag.” That sounds silly in a blog entry, and it sounds silly in everyday conversation. What many beginning writers fail to realize is that IT ALSO SOUNDS SILLY IN FICTION. It’s clumsily worded, adds nothing to the story, and seems to exist solely for the purpose of trying to convince the reader that what they’re reading is “good.” And your first two chapters are full or examples like those. So if you somehow manage to bridge that gap between what your two disparate writing styles, I think you would have a lot more luck.

    Anyway, that’s what I have to say. I’d be glad to hear your thoughts. Thanks for reading, and I hope at least some of it was helpful.

  7. -emgiberson, Thank you so much, that was very sweet of you to say.

    -dc, You always have an interesting way of looking at things. I was thinking yesterday that a few weeks ago my biggest fear was that no one would care that my book existed. I suppose strong feelings of dislike is better than indifference?

    -starcraftplayer, I’ll email you with my thoughts :)

  8. Erika, just keep in mind that people with bad things to say wake up, get out of bed, (hopefully) put pants on and go about their day just like you. They just haven’t written a published book. Which makes them losers.

    Whoa, my bad. We were all trying to be mature here. ;)

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