To be, or not to be, that is the question—
Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?
I guess I knew that putting a book out might be risky on some level. Bad reviews are bound to happen because honestly, it’s not likely that everyone is going to like my work. In fact, there may be people who hate it. I like to think that getting a bad review is a way to become a better writer for my future work. I take feedback seriously. The trick is to not let it define me or completely shut me down I suppose.
But this is different.
I got a bad review this past week but it was not about the book. It was personal. I know the commenter. She was not interested in shrouding herself in anonymity and for that I suppose I should be grateful, though even if she had been anonymous I’m pretty sure I would have known who it is. At the same time, I confess, I had no idea this person hated me to this degree. I know that we ended our friendship and that she was unhappy with how things went down while we were friends. I thought we’d talked it through and at least reached some stasis, but given the libelous nature of her “review” for my book, I guess I was wrong.
What’s hard is that all I could think to do was comment in return asking if she’d even read the book, asking why she still held this much anger towards me, asking why none of our shared friends ever mentioned that she believed me to be so very evil and abusive. I did not comment immediately. It seemed like a losing proposition and a poor way to dialogue about it.
And you know, the reality is that I don’t really want to be in relationship with her at this point. To engage and try to understand or smooth over or make it right, especially with someone who is so hell-bent on making sure people know the depth of some fabricated deceitfulness feels like walking into quicksand and I’m not willing to do that. Even so, in the midst of all the slings and arrows I do wish her well. I do hope the best for her.
A bad review of my work is an opportunity. I can always learn and study and revise in the future in order to become a better writer. Bad reviews of my work are words on a page, from strangers or near strangers. I can place those into the appropriate categories when they come (and they will come.) But an attack on my character is different, it’s personal and it’s ugly and the accusations are false. I begin to wonder if I ought to look deeper at what happened in our short friendship. I begin to question and worry. I wonder if I should counter the charges. I wonder if I should try to make a plea for peace. I wonder if there some hidden split in me, a Mr Hyde to my Dr Jeckyll, that I do not recall or realize.
In the end there is really nothing I can do about it except to trust that my work speaks for itself, that my true character shines through and maybe too, that Amazon will expose it as a personal attack rather than a legitimate critique of a book I’ve poured so much of my self into over these last three years. Time will tell.