I was watching a BookTuber do reviews one day and was struck by something I’ve never thought of before. This came after February’s IWSG (insecure writer’s support group) question that asked: “How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?”
I admit I couldn’t relate to the question. Sure, my reading went through a slump a couple of years ago when my writing did. And sure, writing has gotten me back to reading, and reading has gotten me back to writing many times. But I’ve always been a writer. And a reader.
When I was listening to this BookTuber rate a book she liked “2.75” stars (no joke) – I was like…do you round up on that or down? And I realized then what people were talking about when they said writing made them appreciate the work that goes into a book more. This BookTuber is not a writer. But a lot of readers aren’t writers.
It’s a perspective I don’t think about, but I’m glad I’m thinking about it now because when you put your work out into the world, someone is going to pick at it. Fact. I’m not the kind of person who’s going to run to Amazon or wherever and read every single review that rolls in, but I’ll be reading some of the initial reviews, for sure.
I have to consider the fact that being a writer hasn’t made me more sympathetic to other writers. I work hard. I expect other writers to do the same. It’s a fact that some writers just don’t care. And there was a time when I thought the same. “It’s entertaining and it makes sense – that’s what matters.” And there’s some truth in that to a degree. But to say readers don’t care about well-constructed stories, that is not true.
Readers deserve a good reading experience. I have to remember that I’m a reader, too. And readers have a right to their opinions. They have a right to dislike something and even hate it. After all, it’s established that while I love “Catching Fire” and have great respect for Suzanne Collins, I HATE “Mockingjay.” And I hate THE mockingjay: Katniss “can’t make up my mind and can’t function without morphling” Everdeen-Mellark. (I do love Peeta a great deal though.)
I can’t get upset because someone picks at my book. If I’m going to read the review and it’s not glowing, I have two healthy options: I can appreciate the time they took and move on, or I can see if it’s something I want to learn from. It doesn’t do me any good to roll my eyes at it or belittle the person who wrote it to pacify my hurt feelings. There’s just acceptance, because I can’t control how people respond to it. I worked hard. That’s all I can do.
I can’t pretend like it’s not a daily battle sometimes to wrestle my inner editor, self-doubt, fear, and other miscellaneous monsters into submission so I can write. But I can say that I do it so often, it’s become a habit. Doubt rears up, and I just talk to it automatically. It appreciates the attention, we figure out why it’s up and flailing, and then it hugs me, and I sit down to write. It’s not always quick, but it is that simple.
I also can’t say it’s always easy to convince myself that I’m a good writer, especially since I finished something just last year that I consider crap. But I do have good taste, I do have a lot of experience, I have read a crap ton of books even if I haven’t read so much the last couple of years, and I did set that story I was working on aside because I could tell it wasn’t good. I have good instincts, and I’m a really good writer. That’s a fact. Knowing it’s a fact helps me when I’m thinking the opposite. And yes, it does make me feel weird to call myself a good writer sometimes. I don’t believe it those days. Still true. 😛
Far too often, writer’s are way too hard on themselves. We’re afraid to announce that we’re good, because someone may come along and say the opposite. Yeah, well, lemme tell ya, that person would be wrong. Just because my story isn’t flawless, that doesn’t mean I’m not really good. It means I’m not perfect. And maybe my books are too shallow. But I’m still growing, and I already know I’m not perfect.
That’s a relief. Because it also means I don’t have to strive for perfection. I can just focus on stories I’m excited about.
So when someone, maybe even that BookTuber, reviews my book one day and gives it 3.75 stars and rounds down, it won’t change the fact that I like her or the fact that I’m a really good writer. It just means I’m not the best writer in the world. And again, I already know that.