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The Aftershocks of Criticism

Posted on: November 29th, 2012 by bubbyjoysandoys 8 Comments

Enjoyed this? Share it, and attribute it. Copyright 2014, Bubby Joys and Oys, M. Hendeles

It happened yesterday. I thought I could push it off for at least another few months. But alas, the inevitable occurred. Deep down I knew it was bound to happen, but I was in denial and I was enjoying the honeymoon. And when it — the inevitable –happened, it hit me between the eyes. I felt the sting for about a minute. Then the pain , having reached its peak, began to subside. After several minutes of deep breathing, I was fine. Yes, I survived and yes, I am here to tell the story.

I am alive and well after my very first criticism of my book (Mazel Tov! It’s a Bubby!) that was released in early September 2012. My baby, my labor of love, my b-b-b-book. Criticized, Chastised, Reviewed, and Analyzed.

There it was in black and white, plain to see, and read – bold letters, right under the category of “Critical Reviews” on a well-known website.

“Some nice stories, cute title, but not much new advice here and not so exciting.”

Just like that. She had the nerve to just type up those words. Wow.

Well, to be fair to her, she did allow that ‘some’ stories are ‘nice.’  And that was generous of her. But hey, the rest of her comment was lukewarm at best. And I did not like it. Not one little bit.

How could she? The gall? Some random person decided to go onto a public site, and act like such a know-it-all? Here she blemishes the web page – one that has only had positive, raving and fabulous reviews of my book (never mind that one of them was by my MOTHER), and mess up my report card by plastering a B post on my otherwise A plus record.

So after I recovered from the shock,  came back to reality, and refrained from writing a scathing rebuttal to said reviewer on the comments section about how she completely misunderstood my book’s premise, I got a grip and told myself, “Not everyone has to love my book.”

Yes. I told myself that. And I also told myself that well-known phrase: “Other people’s opinions of me are none of my business.”

There. I was a big girl. I could manage

But somehow I felt like a fraud.  I was one big fat liar, and did not believe my own words.

I began to spin. How could this Critical Bubby call my book an advice book that misses the mark, when it isn’t even an advice book to begin with? Anyone with half a Bubby’s brain knows that. Can’t she read English (no, my book is not in Yiddish, Okay?)? It says in  in my Introduction how I’m not giving advice. I’m just telling stories (“nice” ones in her words).

Aaargh! I hate criticism.

But go argue with a computer. It doesn’t work. So I did the next best thing. I turned off my computer and got busy with something else. I figured maybe Mrs. Criticism would have second thoughts and delete her criticism by the time I logged on to check (five minutes later). After all, she will realize that she is outnumbered. It’s her against 3 other reviewers who were all positive. (My mother. My aunt. And my sister. – but she doesn’t have to know that, right?) And  she will feel really silly being the odd one out, thereby deleting her erroneous message.

Well, at the end of the day, time heals all wounds. And I’m here to tell my story.

At this point, I view that woman’s critical (read: mean) remark as a badge of honor. I decide that it makes me a real author. Real authors don’t get only compliments. Real authors get read. Real authors get analyzed, and real authors get discussed. With discussion come opinions. And with opinions come the criticism.

What would happen if all my writing was approved all the time? I would never improve it or tweak it. I would have no reason to. Since I got this scathing report card, I  know the reality — that not everyone is going to love my book. And whether they are “right” or “wrong,”  these are their opinions, and as an author, I ought to know the various opinions.

SO I have two choices regarding said critic’s criticism. Well, actually three choices. a) learn from the criticism b) ignore the criticism c) argue with the criticism.

As of the writing of this blog post, I am somewhere between a and b. And that’s growth, because yesterday not only was I ready to argue with the reviewer, but I was ready to KILL her.

And we don’t ever want to kill our readers. Not a good thing for any author.

Keep reading and keep commenting. But please go easy on this new author. She can’t handle another scratch – for another day or so at least — on her beautiful new baby, I mean book.


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8 Responses

  1. Chavi says:

    Miriam- I feel your dismay! What hurts, heals! And helps!??!
    Just remember, my promoting your superb book and your “down-to-earth” style outweighs numerically any critical opinions, by far! Keep plugging at that computer!

  2. omilaca says:

    🙂 Thanks for your sympathy, Chavi! Most appreciated…. 🙂 LOL

  3. beccakinla says:

    I just LOVE this post. Several years back, when A Dozen Daisies for Raizy came out, there were several reviews published, most of them positive. When they put up the Amazon page, they picked the absolute worst one as the main review that is posted under the summary. UGH. I was mortified, not just for my sake, but for the illustrator.

  4. Sherri Henkin says:

    I enjoyed your honest self-assessment…and your humor! This line tickled my funny bone, “And we don’t ever want to kill our readers. Not a good thing for any author.” Nope – we don’t want to go around killing readers! Thanks for showing us how to work through criticism!

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