Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Thick Skin

First off I'd like to apologize for randomly wandering off for a month. I tend to get involved in things like writing, self-loathing, work, depression, and life in general. I can't even say I've been working on the rest of the 2014 "Novel Series" posts because I haven't. I've got one almost ready which is book two for the year and I'm up to five books for this year.

Second I'd like to say that I've probably been suffering with some form of depression for the past ten years (or more) and sometimes it's really hard to cope with it. I can come off as okay and happy on small things like Twitter or NaNo Forum posts but most days I feel like crap. I don't want to get out of bed or when I go to sleep I wish that I won't wake up. The only way I deal with it is by writing a novel and immersing myself in a character's life because most of the time it's about as crappy (or more so) than mine.

This depression was brought on by a lot of things that I don't feel like getting into right now but one is important to this post. So, away we go.

For those of you that don't know: if you want to be a writer you have to have a thick skin. I don't have a thick skin. It's probably part of the reason I don't promote so much because I'm afraid of what people are going to think. I know that if someone thinks badly of my work that I'll start hating it myself and then I'll stop writing.

That's exactly what happened tonight. A friend asked how I was doing in the writing front so I did what I probably shouldn't do: I Googled my name. To be honest, there were a lot of good things coming up. But I found a review for one of my books that simply said "Don't bother." Never mind the same book had a "not bad" review on it. It's the "don't bother" that stings.

Now, I understand that I can't please everyone. I also understand that the book in question is four years old. I'd like to think that my writing style has improved since then. I also understand the concept behind having a thick skin.

That doesn't mean a comment like that, two (or three) simple words, doesn't sting. It hurts. It made me stop writing in the middle of chapter tonight because I thought: "Well why bother?" Then I started thinking about how even after four years and a month that I haven't made the money I spent on my books back. I started re-evaluating my whole thought process on being a writer in general: "why bother with it?" "you know no one's going to read this," "there are people out there better than you," "you don't deserve to be a writer," "you have no future," and etc.

It's a whole downward spiral that I think I'm coming out of. It would be the quickest I ever came out of one, that's for sure but it's a good thing. It means I'm developing that thick skin and not taking a bad comment to heart. I'm not bursting into tears over it and I'm not feeling like I should delete everything and never speak of this again.

No, instead I'm thinking "well, he didn't like it. Hm, why? Let's go read it. It's not that bad. Yeah, it can be improved here, and here. Okay, so he doesn't like my writing. Big deal." Other people have liked it, well, thought it was okay. I'm good with okay because if it was okay four years ago, my writing is better than okay now. Rule of averages and all that.

What I'm trying to say is that for every bad comment there are probably at least four or five that aren't so bad. If you're lucky there's only one bad comment in a hundred. But that one bad comment will be the death of you if you let it. So don't let it. I know it's hard but hey, so long as your writing pleases you and you're happy with it, who cares?

Oh, and so you know: I didn't make it to Round Two in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. I also haven't submitted a damned thing because (if you hadn't noticed) I take rejection pretty horribly. That and I'm still on the fence about the debate of self-publishing (as unsuccessful as it's been for me) and traditional publishing. It's part of that whole self-loathing thing that only goes away when I'm putting my characters through some trial or another.

Until next time: comments, questions, rage, rants and everything in between can be directed to the comments.

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