Sunday, January 24, 2010

Am I Allowed to Talk About This?

by Leann

Agatha teapot It's awards season. Yipee! The time of year when I know one thing for sure: my name will not be appearing anywhere on any list for anything. There was a time when I was naive enough to think I might have a chance at a nomination for SOMETHING. Dogcatcher, maybe? But no more. I don't even make excuses. I accept this as predictable. Sales are good, readers send me e-mails saying they love my books, and I have lots of writer friends. That's enough for me.

Okay. I'm lying. Who doesn't want to be recognized for their hard work? But what's nice about this business is that when my friends get nominated, I'm happy for them. Genuinely happy. I don't feel envious, perhaps because this isn't really a competition. This is a job. And having made lots of friends with writers over the years, I wish them all the very best. A prize would be nice, but not necessarily required.

Funny, but what bothers me more than my lack of being noticed is a nasty review on Amazon. And I don't get angry, I feel hurt. It's quite personal when someone on a public forum says "this is a silly Ugly baby book" after you've spent a year of your life working on it. It's kind of like someone looking into your stroller and saying "Your baby is really, really ugly." Ouch. And yet, this is a part of the business, too. If folks dole out good money for a book and find it silly, I guess they can shout that from the rooftops. And I need to accept that and move on. Most times I do after enjoying at least a small pity party with good friends who understand. (But there are a couple of rejections that will sting forever.)

A major award What do these things have in common? I cannot control them. We all struggle with that issue in one way or another. If only the entire world did exactly as I wished, then all problems would be solved. Pretty narcissistic, huh? Yup. So I'm back to that awards thing. I need to let go of my longing to be recognized for a job well done. It doesn't affect the way I write. My stories are uniquely mine. I couldn't write a book believing I'd win an award if I did this or I did that even if I tried. Creativity doesn't work that way. And you know what? I think that's a good thing.

What about you? Is there something you long for that you know you'll never get? And how do you handle it? I'd love to know!

PS: I long for my daughter and son-in-law to have a baby, but that probably won't happen either. Out of my control--as it should be.

35 comments:

Andrea C. said...

Leanne - I think people who leave mean comments about books on amazon are just jealous! Who wouldn't want to be a published author? They probably have a total lame job, like an accountant - hahaha (Just Kidding accountants). I find people who criticize my job (teacher) have no clue what my job is like daily and just think, she gets her summers off - and once again, they are jealous!

Jill Edmondson said...

OH MY GOD!!! Yes, a nasty review is like saying your baby looks like a troll doll!

Constructive criticism is welcome and helpful... Mean-spirited comments without substance serve no one and make the reviewer look petty. Far better to objectively make a criticism and offer an opinion on what could have or would have improved on it... at least then for the next book you can avoid the same problem!

Cheers, Jill
"Blood and Groom" is now in stores!
www.jilledmondson.com

Jessica said...

Apparently they didn't learn the old adage, "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all"!

Jessica said...

I'm having a terrible time controlling myself with keeping papers from my son that he does in preschool. You know the kind, around Christmas, or Thanksgiving, Valentines Day....ones that I say I love You Mommy, or You're Special Mommy, or I'm Thankful for you Mommy. Those are my day to day awards...and I'm just not sure that I can keep every single one he brings home although I'd like to try! I try to look at everything in a personal way like that. When you get flowers from your significant other, woohoo! There's an award from him/her saying "you're the best partner". Birthday card from your mom? "you're a great child, don't ever change" Gift certificate on Bosses Day? "you're doing a good job, keep up the good work!" etc
I find that life is full of little "awards" but yeah, I totally agree...sometimes it would be nice for someone to recognize us on a larger scale!

Leann Sweeney said...

Since I worked in an elementary school or 20 years (nurse) I guess I was conditioned to plenty of parents with not very nice things to say. Teachers bust their butts and I'm not sure everyone gets that.

Jill, yes. Constructive criticism is very welcome, but it's those "fly-by" reviews with one or two sentences that sting the most.

Jessica, I eventually had to throw away my kid's stuff and tried to save the most treasures, but it is hard! And yes, those little appreciations mean so much.

Thanks everyone for your insights and your support! It's tough to bare your soul about this subject.

signlady217 said...

Jessica--try taking digital pictures of his cute little papers and saving the memories that way. (My mom still has stuff from when we were kids!)

Leann--after 24 years, I think my mom is finally resigned (yeah, right!) to the fact that my husband and I decided not to have kids. My brother has three girls (all teenagers now), so she's not totally bereft of the little darlings.

As for the recognition, a few more "whoo-hoos!" from the hubby would be nice, but he usually doesn't even notice! Yikes! Still gotta love him, though!

Leann Sweeney said...

I agree about the husband! I was working on page proofs yesterday and he said, "what are you doing?" I told him and he looked at me like I had two heads. This is my 7th book and he never noticed the process? Sigh. He does fix things really well so I must not complain!! LOL

Wendy Lyn Watson said...

I'll admit it -- I need to be loved. Not just tolerated, but LOVED. Thankfully, I have a wonderful Mr. Wendy who loves me, and a great family and friends ... but I'm greedy. I want the whole wide world to love me!!

When the criticism comes, I do my best to shut my ears and sing (figuratively and literally), but the pain is still there.

I, too, have a box of notes and e-mails that I read through when it gets tough. Rejection and criticism are part of life, particularly part of a writer's life, but that doesn't mean I have to embrace it. :)

Mare F said...

First I have to say that anyone who buys a cozy should expect a cozy. I love what you write, and I expect that future generations will also, but I also don't think that I'm getting the "great American novel" when I buy a mystery by one of my favorite authors. If one is looking for "serious" literature (wish I could spell it phonetically the way I've heard it pronounced)then one should head for straight fiction! I appreciate that most of the cozy authors, and some not so cozy, that I read have social consciouses and use them judiciously. I enjoy learning about the various topics I have read about in mysteries and if a reader cannot take the book as offered than they should comment tactfully....not attack the book or author. Wow, off the soapbox now. LOL. What was the question??

Helen Kiker said...

Words of praise from your readers will continue to flood your email. An award would be nice & it might show up just when you least expect it. In the meantime, just keep smiling.

Helen

Leann Sweeney said...

Helen, you are so sweet. Thanks so much. And Mare the librarian, I love you! Get up on the soapbox any time you want! Wendy, I finally threw out my rejection letters last year. It was my "box of pain!" But it also spurred me on to do better, write better, live my dream. True criticism, offered with care, is invaluable. I learn from what readers say. Most of them are experts at knowing what works and what doesn't and I listen. But those drive-by slams? I just don't get it.

Heather Webber said...

I *love* the picture of that troll! And the ugly baby comparison to a bad review. Perfect.

Kiy said...

If it makes you feel any better about those "reviews" ... I tend to take anything like that with a serious grain of salt. Some people have no power in their real lives, so look to avenues like that to try and wield power. I was in a situation that was exactly that - small minded person with a not glamorous job (to him) who thought by belittling and bad mouthing others it made him the Big Man. Nope.

I do read amazon reviews, to get a feel for a new (to me) author. But I don't necessarily always believe them (or agree!).

About that baby, my mom waited for 14 years ... but hubby and I finally did give her a granddaughter. You just never know. :)

Cheers,

Kiy

Leann Sweeney said...

Ah, Kiy. You mean there's still hope? hey'd be such great parents, but it really is none of my business and I keep my mouth shut!

Dru said...

rejection letters are just like "toxic" friends, once you get rid of them, the better you feel.

Anonymous said...

This is a hot topic. And, in fact, author Libby Hellmann will be blogging about it on tomorrow's Sisters In Crime blog. Be sure to tune in: http://sisters-in-crime-sinc.blogspot.com

Leann Sweeney said...

Yes. Toxic friends! What a good way to put it. And I did feel soooooo much better. Why did I keep them? Did I think I could wallpaper a room or something? LOL. (I did have enough of them!)

Shel said...

Leann, (and everyone else who writes anything, too), what you have to keep in mind is that anyone can write a review at Amazon. That means - if their dog bit them, the mailman brought an audit notice, or they're just mentally unbalanced in the first place, Amazon is a "safe" anonymous place for them to take out their frustrations on an "innocent bystander" who can't fight back...in other words, you.
Another writer friend of mine was very upset about a one star review she got on Amazon this weekend too. Both her books and your books are fantastic; so the review was unfounded. I sympathize so much with y'all over this - and I'm so glad I don't do anything that gets put in the public eye for people to rant over. But I do want you (and any other author reading this) to know: I completely disregard Amazon reviews. Ok, and most other ones, for that matter, too. Who's that lady who speedreads and gets all the ARC's and then writes a ton of reviews? I ignore her too. If I can't tell by the copy on the back of the book whether or not I want to read it, then I ask someone at Mobile Read who shares my taste their opinion. And then I STILL make up my own mind.

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks Shel! You are so right and my logical brain understands this. But my heart sometimes rules my head. Why did it take such thick skin to keep plugging away to get published and then I'm reduced to mush when some stranger says my book is "silly?" I'm saving all these sane comments! You are great!

Lindy said...

John Cleese did a video about feedback that I used in one of my training courses years ago. In it someone came in and yelled at an employee and walked out. John Cleese said to the employee, "His cat died, you know. And his mother is very sick... she got run over by bus." (Something like that anyway.) Now whenever my husband yells about a stupid move by a driver (or whatever), I say "His cat died, you know."

misterreereeder said...

There is one thing we can hold on to - HOPE. I'm not an author and I probably will not ever go to some of these big gatherings of authors - just so I cna meet a lot of them. This is probably unlikely - but one can HOPE. I will probably have to be satisfied meeting one author at a time on an occassion like a book signing. HOPE!!!

Leann Sweeney said...

Great story, Lindy! You never know what's behind someone's actions or overreactions. I'll have to remember that. And Dennis, I sure HOPE you make it to a convention. You'd have such a good time.

RosieJo said...

I worked at the front desk in a public library for 20 yrs and I have seen and heard most all kinds of comments. The one thing that I know for sure is that what someone says about others (or other's books) says more about them than it does about the subject at hand. If they were decent people they would have had a decent comment, if not...well, you know what I mean...

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks RosieJo. You have no idea how much I needed to hear that right now! You are so right.

jbstanley said...

I don't know about the rest of you, but when I read a one-star review I tend to wonder about the reviewer's motives. I often think they're expecting something like another genre or another writer and have unfairly judged the book at hand. Often, if you click on those readers other reviews, you'll see that they coast around Amazon being nasty as a rule or they read books way unlike ours. In short, they vent for the masses but the masses aren't that malleable. I think most of us view mean reviews as just that: mean.

I still haven't gotten over the reviewer who gave me a one-star and then said, "I will never read anything by this author again. The only good thing, this book was small (only about 200 pages). I am glad I am finished with this horrible mess of a book."

OUCH!

Leann Sweeney said...

Ouch is right. You're right. Plain mean--and probably only because this person could remain anonymous. I'm sorry, Jennifer, and I think your books are great!

Lover of Books said...

When I write reviews for my blog, I HATE writing bad ones. If there is a reason I don'/t like the book I say so and explain why but always say someone else might enjoy the book more than me.

Pooch said...

Leann, Honey, Get a grip. Its gonna be OK. Everything looks better in the morning. Focus on the big stuff. Disregard the small stuff. Don't worry. Be happy.

tweezle said...

OUCH! I read that review and it wasn't constructive (at least to me) at all. :( I'm sure you're familiar with the old saying; "You can please some of the people some of the time ......" Well, I should add there are those you can't please any time :)

I'm sending lots of good thoughts and a hug your way.

Maggie Sefton said...

I'm sorry, Leann. I'm convinced some of those reviewers just like to put someone down, probably because they're feeling bad about themselves. Ignore them. I do.

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks for all the support. I'm glad there are still reviewers who actually can critically "review" the book. I learn from that. And I think it takes thought and effort to do that kind of work. The bad reviews still sting, but I am getting better at letting go than I used to be.

Shauna said...

You write great books and I enjoy them. Keep smiling.

dollycas said...

I love your books!! As someone new to writing reviews I try to give positive feedback, and will try to never give a negative review. If I absolutely hate a book, I figure it was me, who picked up the wrong book and am sure there are people out there who love it. My daughters are into all the paranormal, vampires, etc. I do not like those types of books but like my daughters there are many that do. Hopefully if you have purchased a book, you are going to like it, if someone sends you book to review that isn't "your cup of tea" just say so, they is no reason to be rude, which I THINK THIS REVIEWER WAS!!

As for things we can't control for me there are many, I would like to go back to Mar 15, 2001 at 8 p.m. and have my van stay on the road when I sneezed several times and ended up up-side-down in a creek, but there are no do overs for things like that. I am thankful God decided it wasn't my time and that I am here with my family and the wonderful friends I have made via this computer.

Leann, you write wonderful books that bring joy to many people. Don't ever stop!!!!

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks Shauna! I plan to keep doing what I do. And dollycas, you are an inspiration. That van accident is not a do-over, but you sound like you know what's important in life. Thanks for your kind words.

cookie said...

I never read Amazon reviews ! I believe in Divine intervention and Divine guidance so have learned to let the other stuff go. Karma will take care of the rest of the stuff...