Well, it finally happened. I got a one star drive by rating for one of my books on the Goodreads site. I’ve been bravely and with MUCH bravado claiming to look forward to this moment ever since I first timidly released The Secret Diary a couple of years ago but now that it is FINALLY upon us, I don’t know what to make of it to be honest.
I kept telling myself that getting shoddy feedback would mean that AT LAST I am a real writer, but actually I’m now wondering if perhaps it means that I’m really NOT a writer and should give up immediately and stick to my day job, which is researching instead. No, seriously, I have clunked to a halt and am wondering if perhaps I should give up?
I thought I’d be able to just laugh it off but actually, you know what, I feel hurt. WOUNDED even. Isn’t that weird? I mean, it’s probably not personal is it? It doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t see any value in me as a human being, just that they think my book is rubbish and THAT’S OKAY.
I don’t know why I’m baring my soul over this one but I thought that as a lot of you are also aspiring authors, you might want to know that a. other people feel crushed when someone doesn’t like their work and b. that’s alright.
Right now I am telling myself that:
1. Ommm. It doesn’t mean I am a bad person, just a bad writer. Ommmm.
2. I musn’t respond by apologising and saying that I hope they got a refund as this will probably invite further crushing criticism. Just walk away.
3. It happens to everyone. Doesn’t it?
4. There are lots of books (1984, all science fiction and fantasy, everything by Terry Pratchett) that other people adore that I’d cheerfully give one star to because they just aren’t my bag, baby. There are even books by my Most Favourite Author, Georgette Heyer, that I would give one star to because although I love her other books, I just didn’t happen to at all enjoy those few.
5. There are lots of books (the one I am reading right now which is magnificent, The Deathly Hallows and oh pretty much every book EVER) that I adore and other people seem to loathe. This doesn’t mean that I have bad taste in books or that they are wrong. It all comes down to taste.
6. I must not ignore the fact that this is SO FAR my only one star review and that to date I have had a whole plethora of four and five star ratings and reviews of my work. However, weirdly, I now appear to be dismissing all of that in favour of dwelling, BROODING over the one person who didn’t like my work. That’s just human nature isn’t it? You see it on Twitter all the time (mostly from ‘celebrities’) – people ignore praise and only respond to criticism. Why is that?
7. I’m in good company. Look, I’m only human so yes, I looked to see what other ratings this unhappy reader has given. Wouldn’t you? Two stars to Far From The Madding Crowd, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Room, Wuthering Heights and Never Let Me Go and one star to Eat, Pray, Love and The Da Vinci Code (that’s it, I’m giving up writing right now). Clearly a tough crowd then. They’ve also given five stars to books I gave one star to and books that I would have given no stars at all to if I’d had the option and two stars to books I gave four stars to. It’s all swings and roundabouts and a quick look through the books they enjoyed suggests that our taste in literature couldn’t be any more different.
So there we have it. I’m still smarting but rather less so than I was last night and let’s face it I’d better get used to it! Have you had a one star for your work? How did you cope? Did it make you consider giving up or did it make you even more determined to succeed?