This realization, in relation to my writing and future publication, has really freaked me out lately. I don’t know why, considering I’m nowhere near close to publishing anything, as engrossed as I am in the editing and writing stages across multiple books.Yet I can’t shake it. Someday, once I’m published, someone is going to read my books.
And they are going to hate them.
And not just hate them. Some people will think they are poorly written. Some people will believe I am making political statements that were either unintentional or unrealized. Some may be offended. Some are going to be aggravated at how similar one book is to X while another book uses the same trope as books A-Z. Some will hate how I incorporate romance. Others will despise how I kill my characters. People will label me as unoriginal, overdone or nothing to get excited over. Suddenly, stories that I have slaved over for years will become nothing more, to some people, than a rating of stars or the latest thing to get pissed off about.
And that scares me.
I’ve been a people pleaser since…gosh, I don’t know if there was ever a time when I wasn’t. I want to make those around me happy. I like to make others lives easier or more enjoyable, even if it is at my own expense. I hate it when others are angry with me. I avoid “getting in trouble” at all costs. Goodie-two-shoes and people pleaser, yep, that’s me. So the idea that my novels, the stories of my heart and soul, which I write because I must, are going to cause unrest, dissension and anger in future readers, inevitably, freaks me out. Obviously, I don’t want people to hate the books I write. I don’t want them to think my stories are overdone or ridiculous or “just another same ole fantasy novel.”
You see, this whole “realization” has been hitting me hard lately as I’ve started reviewing books, over at Erlebnisse. I don’t have too many reviews posted and all of them are positive. It’s really hard for me to read a book and not like it. Occasionally, I’ll pop over to Goodreads and read the reviews posted there about the book I’m currently reviewing, to see how others are feeling. In my latest review, all of the feedback was surprisingly negative and followed the same trend: the entire review would bash the book, about how it started slow or followed this trope or had this character flaw and then at the end, in a single sentence, it would be like, “Oh, don’t get me wrong. I liked the book and it was a good read. It just could have been improved exponentially.”
Then, of course, I loved the book. Upon reflecting what these reviews were saying, I understood where they were coming from, but I didn’t notice these issues whilst reading the book. I was too busy enjoying the story to nitpick all the potential problems. Perhaps these reviews were nitpicking. Perhaps they genuinely had conflicting feelings about the book that I had enjoyed so thoroughly. But then, I started to question if the book was really good as I thought it was. How could it be, when everyone else had so many issues with it?
I stopped myself, went back to my review, and stayed true to my reading of it. I really enjoyed the book. I’m really excited for the second one. My opinion, my reading of it, is just as valid as those who hated it. And those who hated it? Yes, just as valid as my love for it. Our opinions are valid, even as different as they are. And that will still be the same when my books are published. Those who hate them have the right to do so. They will probably find valid reasons to do so, despite my passion for my works.
I don’t have any grand solutions to this, if any solutions are meant to be found. It isn’t even a problem, really, recognizing the vast opinions of my future readers. I’m simply realizing that being a writer, so much is out of my control. I don’t write stories to be loved, though I hope readers will love my stories, one day. I write because I must and I will continue to write stories that I want to because I must, regardless of this fear; regardless that I know, years from now, when I read that first review of how shitty my book was, it will break my heart. My skin isn’t nearly as thick as it needs to be to make it in this business unscathed. My heart hurts knowing, with so many people with varying tastes, moods, backgrounds, experiences and lives, that I can’t please them all. That some people will hate my books, get offended by them, get bored by them or refuse to read them.
These reactions are inevitable. You can’t please everybody.
Yet my heart soars at the possibility of reading a positive review; at the idea that someone missed their alarm clock the next morning because they stayed up too late, living the mantra “only one more chapter.” I crave the day when I can connect with someone online or meet someone at a book signing–hell, to have a book signing or talk would be incredible–and to have someone look up to me and claim, “Damn, you’re my inspiration” or “you’re my favorite author.” Those moments I will cherish beyond belief. And those negative reviews? Those nitpickers? I’ll read them, probably cry a bit because I’m an emotional wreck in every regard, eat some ice cream and then I’ll learn. Perhaps my stories will improve and change for the better from their feedback. Perhaps they won’t.
Regardless of the response I receive one day as an author, I hope my audience and readers know that I’m trying. I am trying to write the best stories that my soul can produce, while staying true to myself, my craft and my passion as a writer. I hope you enjoy them, future readers. And if you hate them, that’s okay, too. I simply thank you all for reading them and allowing me to live out my dream. Now all I gotta do is make it there.