Okay--my weekend probably has better stories and better pictures than what's sticking in my craw right now, and I'm going to skip right over them because, hey, we've already agreed that I have a hard kernel of narcissism embedded in my emotional make-up that it is impossible to pluck out.
I've recieved my first bad review.
I knew it had to happen. NO writer with anything worthwhile--or even entertaining--to say is universally loved. Nobody. Take that guy who wrote The Bridges of Madison County--Robert James Waller--I'm not a big fan--if you look at amazon, a lot of people aren't, but he's selling books and making movies and SOMEBODY loves him and his critics are sort of spitting in the wind, aren't they? What about William Faulkner? Now HIM I adore--but he had critics who would would walk on the other side of the street if they saw him coming--they thought he was obscene (well, he did have one character who was totally in love with a cow...I mean, MOOOOOOOOOOO....) and they thought he was long winded, and they really didn't appreciate the 17 pregnant printed pages that were missing one lousy period. So I get it--I threw my hard work into the world, and you know it, I know it, THE WORLD IS A MEAN MOTHER FUCKER THAT WILL CHEW US UP AND SPIT US OUT IF WE DON'T HAVE OUR TENDER BITS PROTECTED BY IRON GRANNY PANTIES.
I guess I just forgot to put them on, that's all.
She was baffled. The critic was baffled by all the good press--she couldn't understand how anybody could love a book that misused commas so badly. Honestly, I didn't realize that commas had a lobby...I sort of thought they were like rocks in the shoe--yeah, it's irritating if one leaves the driveway to make it's way into your loafer, but really--it's not personal. And the review felt really personal. I mean, I know it's not--not that someone who's lobbying for the comma wouldn't take issue with my frequently typod blog or my completely disorganized life, and then that really WOULD be personal, but to say she was 'baffled'? I mean, I've read lots of books that hadn't lived up to their press--James Patterson, for one. I mean, I get why my friend loves him, but he doesn't do it for me. No style, no pizzazz, no fire... but I can at least respect that she loves him. It doesn't 'baffle' me. But my book, with it's shifting viewpoints 'baffled' her.
I was looking forward to my first bad review--I told my husband that I was looking forward to it. It meant all the good reviews were legit. It meant that my book had moved people--either to love it or to hate it. I didn't expect my first review to focus on stylistics--and frankly, I'm 'baffled' as to how to handle it.
I wrote the reviewer a very gracious comment (if I say so myself) and immediately logged on to my one place of unconditional literary love to lick my wounds--and here I am on the blog, trying to remember that I was still right. My first bad review makes my good reviews legit. No writer, good or bad, not even Orwell, could please everybody. Shakespeare made up his own spelling, grammar, punctuation, and, hello, etymology at will. My writing is still worthwhile, even if it's just for me, and my books are still loved.
I know this.
But Goddess, do I wish someone would log onto amazon quick and cover that bad review with a good one, because right now that one star bafflement is just staring at me like an open wound, letting in the infection of every doubt I've ever had that I was good enough to be read.