No matter how often I tell myself and everyone to do what they want to do and write what they want to write, I still have this (un)conscious desire to please everyone. So it’s no surprise when I feel devastated when someone leaves scathing reviews like, “I’m glad I didn’t shell out any money for this book but I’m so leaving a 1-star rating anyway because this was just ridiculous!” “A waste of time!” “Characters are one-dimensional!” “Hero is effeminate” Blah blah blah blah blah…
Anyone would feel bad, I guess. But I’ve gotten better since. I think it’s called developing thick skin because if you want to be an author, you better develop one. And fast. Or you’re not going to make it in this world. You’ll quit and worse, believe that you’re no good.
But the thing is, you ARE good. And most importantly, you wrote a f**king story. They didn’t.
I’ve always believed that reading a book is not a cut and dry affair. It’s not black and white. Perception of the words and stories within those pages go through so many filters within the reader’s mind. That’s why you’ll have readers who swear they love the book and readers who’ll swear they hated everything about it. Stories go through filters, and those filters are things that an author cannot control. What we control are the stories we write. We can’t control how the reader perceives it.
So let the naysayers go. Listen to what they have to say; sure, sometimes they do have a point, but at the same time, balance it out with the good things you know are in your story. Fight for your characters, defend them. Know that you’re writing for YOU first and foremost, and not for the reader – unless you’re writing straight to market then by all means, write for the reader.
If you wanted your story to be different, leave it the way it is. The right readers will come. The wrong ones… they’ll move on.
As my younger brother said today when he called to wish me a Happy Mother’s Day and wondered why I was withholding all the steamy scenes from my stories (and we were also discussing our cousin’s sudden passing), “life is too short. Just write it. Who cares what THEY think?”