Sometimes I feel like Chuck Wendig is my writerly version of Rob Brezsney.
I’m a pretty independent kinda gal, and I try hard to keep myself accountable, or at least take responsibility for my shortcomings. In my twenties, I went through a phase where I collected self-help books. Rarely finished them, to be honest. And ultimately, I’m not sure they really helped with anything, other than giving me a probably-false sense of control over my life and mental well-being.
In a way, writing advice books can be seen in a similar light. Oh, that’s not to say they’re worthless. God, no. But it’s easy to get wrapped up in taking advice – so wrapped up, that you fail to get any substantial writing done.
All that said, Chuck is one of my go-to guys. And he’s like Rob Brezsney in that, oftentimes when I’m facing some kind of personal thing in writing, he’ll wind up posting a blog that is somehow magically relevant to my current situation. (Despite my checkered history with pagan beliefs and whatnot, I believe most horoscopes are rubbish. But without fail, Brezsney’s astrology, while quirky and funny, usually applies with frighteningly sharp accuracy to my life.)
Take Chuck’s latest post, for example. Granted, there he’s talking more about “caring less” about the process of writing. However, it also applies to what happens after you’ve written.
Aaaand, here is where I confess:
Last week I found myself coming down with a mild case of whiny-author-syndrome.
And it has got to come to a fucking halt.
Because I know better. I’ve seen all the blunders, I’ve snarked (privately), both as a reader and as a writer-in-training, about authors who waste their time freaking out over reviews. “Suck it up, buttercup!” I frequently would say, claiming that I understood fully well that as a writer, there’s no way you can please everyone, and that everyone – everyone, gets negative reviews. Everyone gets rejections. It’s part of the whole shebang, part of the “writer experience.”
I’ve got a thick skin, damnit! I can handle the criticism! I don’t want your fluffy, polite, sugar-coated reviews, tell me what you really think!
Only, despite all those self-declarations of badassery, I’ve found myself slowly circling the drain, getting nearer and nearer to the sucking point where I waste embarrassing amounts of time refreshing my book sales reports and waiting for someone to magically drop a review saying how wonderfully sweet and erotic my short story is, and blah de blah.
The really stupid part? I haven’t even received anything negative! (yet)
I’m literally just acting like a bored, self-important little kid who wants a blue ribbon and a fucking cookie for making her bed. I’ve been treading dangerously close to a vortex of timesuck and stress and sadface over the “gutwrenching” (sarcasmquotes noted) fact that I’ve hardly gotten any feedback at all (on a short story, remember, by a no-name, that hasn’t really sold that much compared to, well, nearly everyone)… And woe is me, boo fucking hoo.
Seriously, self? Really??
Do you know how many times I have face-palmed *and* headdesked in self-disgust since I realized this on Monday? I’m probably going to break out in adult acne from it.
So, finally, I told myself – look, it’s out there. It’s published. It’s gone, it’s not yours anymore. LET GO.
Further, it’s just a goddamned short story. It’s a contemporary, erotic romance short story. Which means that frankly, there just isn’t much of anything about it to review. The point of it was to have something out there, to dip an experimental toe into the self-publishing waters, to get a feel for the different retailers and their format requirements, and to have something to show for myself as a writer while I continue to hammer away at the “real” shit.
But here is my proof that I am not impervious. I am not a slick little duck, completely unaffected by reader reception. Well, not yet, anyway. It’s a goal.
Really, though, I’m glad. The more I ponder it, the more I almost think a scathing 1-star review might be good for me. Okay, in the same way that giving up chocolate and ice cream would be good for me – I don’t necessarily want to go borrowing that kind of drama, but it’s going to happen eventually. And it’s up to me to brush off my rump and keep truckin’ regardless.
It’s up to me to care less, damn it. Care less, and write my damn words.