In another reality, I am the writer who looks at a bad review of her book, rolls her eyes, says, "that reviewer has no taste," and goes on with her life.
In this one, OUCH!
No matter how many times I see a negative online review of one of my books, I get that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. It has never been easy for me to feel un-liked but to do so publically? Ah! Picture me screaming all the way to the Pennsylvania Amish. No secret that I love those people and they are a community for whom fame and celebrity do not exist--on purpose taken out of the social environment.
The interesting thing about putting yourself out there in any form, which I do with my writing and in ministry and in teaching (as opposed to mothering where at least my failures are private), is how the contours of emotion change with the wider audience. If I have a bad day with my children and don't feel I'm the super-mom I long to be, I take a bath, read a book, say a prayer, and try again the next day with renewed intentions. If I get a bad review for a book I've already written by a random reader?
It is important to me, since I wrote a novel about envy and am talking a lot about envy now online, to share this dismal, unhappy piece of writing and publication because I do actually believe--as I hope my newest novel ultimately conveys--that green grass proves itself a myth. Those with one hundred likes on facebook want two hundred. Those with one thousand want two thousand those with fifty thousand want a hundred thousand. When I struggle with that sense of dejection and rejection, I get to bring my spiritual practice into my writing life, haul up the work of letting go into the work of self-promo.
At the end of the day, I actually like the book I wrote. Is it the best book I could ever write? I don't think so, but it is funny and it is true, and for many years I created and recreated (for 4 editors!) a story that means something to most people. Here it is:
You will not get everything you want. You will not get what she has. You will get this imperfect life and if you pay attention you may find a way to love it. And that will be enough.