Naysayers and Nitpickers: Turning The Other Cheek or How To Manage Your Ego

esau-cover2The book is out. The Esau Emergence if you haven’t heard, ahem. Writing anything creative is a torturous exercise. Putting it out there for critique groups is a torturous experience. Having anyone read your work, well….it’s torturous. Moat writers, including myself, have spent their entire lives writing. Granted, I’ve read some of my early work….it’s crap. Some of my recent work is crap. It doesn’t mean that ALL of my work is crap. I like my book. It’s what I would categorize as a beach read. It’s a page turner. I like my characters. I like my plot and the story line. I’m happy to put it out there. I’m interested and motivated to write the sequels. 
Of course, my book won’t interest everyone. If thrillers or suspense isn’t your thing, you might not like my book. It isn’t To Kill A Mockingbird, though I don’t know what else is. I do have another book that I’ve been working on for a long time…it’s more literary fiction than the Esau trilogy. Being a writer is a slippery occupation for those with tender ego. Publishing this novel has been nerve wracking for me and for The Beard. Clearly, I would like folks to love my book. I definitely would like folks to buy my book. I am a writer. It’s my full time profession. I look forward to being a successful writer. Buy my books!

Writing a book means that people in the world will read and critique it. I’ve learned through this process to have balance when it comes to reviews. Pitching to agents, sharing with my critique group, letting test readers have a go at the draft helped me develop a sense of distance from my novel. I go back to Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg, one of the most critical books about writing. Seriously, every writer would benefit from this book. She says that once the words are on the page, they are no longer yours. The words have moved through you and thus, any critique of those words shouldn’t be taken personally. It’s a beautiful mantra and it’s part of my personal philosophy. Don’t take any thing personally…..we can only control ourselves and not others.

I repeat this, I repeat this and I repeat this when I write. I understand that there are some folks out there who won’t say a good thing about my book simply because it’s my book. I know there are people out there who will offer compliments followed quickly by a stabbing blow because I’ve done something scary and they hate that. I’ve actually had people snort when I’ve said I’m a writer and I quit teaching to become a full time writer because they hate their jobs and dislike bold moves by others. I can’t take any of that personally.

Writing is an exercise in learning how to distance your ego from the process. It’s learning how to understand that not everyone will love your work and that’s okay. It doesn’t diminish the work. It doesn’t diminish me. I wrote a good book. I’ll write more good books and even great books. Whoot whoot! Go me!