I’ve been a writer for a long time. 72 years to be exact. I’ve learned a lot and continue to do so and I wanted to pass along some of my knowledge to you. Getting bad reviews is just as important as getting ones that praise your work. I hope that my insights inspire you to remain hopeful and resilient no matter where you are along your journey.
1. All novelists have had their share of bruises. It is an inevitable part of life. Chin up and pen down, the important thing is to keep at it.
2. Most of the literary giants in the past, present, and future have had and will have at least one negative reaction flung their way. For example, a London critic once said of Walt Whitman, “Walt Whitman is as unacquainted with art as a hog is with mathematics.” And how about this reaction to George Orwell from one of the great British critics? “1984 is a failure.”
3. Everyone has opinions. Now, social media has given everyone a voice. A voice masked by anonymity on top of that. You have to listen to the ones that truly matter to you. Ignore insults, especially ones that come from cowardly folk with nothing better to do.
“The first thing you have to learn when you go into the arts is to learn to cope with rejection. If you can’t, you’re dead.”
4. If we wrote to please everyone, we would write nothing at all. Listen to your muse above all else. Take pride and joy in your accomplishments and the people who you inspire and entertain.
5. Celebrate that your work is gaining notice and attention. In today’s flood of entertainment, make sure you stay in the creative ballgame.
6. Good reviews aren’t necessarily a harbinger of future success. Everything passes us at warp speed. Here today, but forgotten in a wink in some cases.
7. Whatever is said about you or your work, make sure your name is spelled right.
You may also like: On Rejection and Renewal: A Note to Aspiring Novelists