Guest Erin Knightley: Facing Feedback (and other fears)
Posted by Anna Bennett May 30 2012, 12:01 am in guest author, handling criticism
Hi, Ruby sis Anne here, and I’m so pleased to welcome Erin Knightley back to the blog! We met at RWA Nationals last year, and since then I’ve watched her gracefully navigate the path to published authordom. Welcome, Erin!
A year ago this month, I was a guest with the Rubies in celebration of being a Golden Heart Finalist. And can you believe it—I’m here now to celebrate the impending release of my debut novel! If that’s not a whirlwind, I don’t know what is. 🙂
In less than a week, I will literally be able to walk into Barnes & Noble, pick up my book from the shelf, and try—unsuccessfully, I’m sure—not to run screaming through the store yelling, “IT’S MY FIRST BOOK!! LOOK, I WROTE THIS!!”
Is it exciting? Heck yeah—it’s one of the most exciting rides of my life. To know that your work will soon be in front of hundreds . . . thousands . . . millions?? . . . yeah, thousands of eyes is beyond thrilling. But as time marches toward June 5th, when my book will at last be available to all and sundry, a funny thing seems to be happening. I went from ecstatic, to thrilled, to excited, to nervous, to scared out of my ever-loving mind.
That’s right, I said it. I’m *terrified.*
All these months that I’ve been telling every person on the planet that my book was forthcoming? Yeah, now that it has gone from months away, to weeks away, and now days away, I find that I desperately want to call them all and say, “Oops! My bad—I don’t have a book coming out. Juuuust forget I ever said anything.” [Insert innocent whistle here]
I’m not kidding. In the aforementioned scenario, when I run through Barnes & Noble screaming like fool, what I didn’t say is that I also hope to round up every copy, buy them myself, then take off for the hills before anyone has the chance to judge me. Because let’s face it: They will judge me.
Fact: Not everybody is going to like the book
Greater Fact: The ones that don’t will feel diabolically compelled to plaster their opinion all over Amazon and Goodreads
Fact: I will try not to read these reviews
Greater Fact: At some point my willpower will crumble like a day-old cookie, and I’ll read them all in one tear-filled, chocolate-binging evening, culminating in me in the fetal position on the couch while my three dogs exchange worried glances
Fact: I can’t do anything about what people will think of the book
Greater Fact: You know what? That’s okay.
As all the scary scenarios played out in my head (“If they had negative stars to give, I totally would have!”), I finally asked myself why it is that I write. What compelled me to put pen to paper—make that fingers to keyboard—and begin spinning a tale. Why did I spend years working on my craft, pursuing agents, swallowing rejection [read: getting teeth kicked in by the Big R], submitting to contests, networking like a fiend, and dealing with the realities of deadlines, edits, and reviews?
Because I had to.
Because there are stories in me that I have to write. There are characters who I must give voice to, and plots I must develop. If I’m away from my computer, my fingers positively itch to type. It’s in my blood the way music is in a musician’s soul, or art is an artist’s passion. I don’t just write—I’m a writer. It’s who I am, no matter what a disgruntled reviewer says, or how few stars are clicked.
I may be a big ole ball of insecurities right now, but ultimately, it doesn’t matter if there are those who don’t like me. I love what I do—tears, sweat, and all—and I will always be proud of reaching for my dreams, regardless of success.
And you know what else? Some people are going to like my books. In fact, I must remind myself that many already do. If I’m lucky, some are even going to love them. And while I will try for all I’m worth to avoid the mean-spirited reviews that are sure to come, I’ll also be living for the day when a fan looks me in the eye and tells me they read my book and loved it.
And that, my friends, will make everything worth it.
You know what else makes it worth it? Having made friends with so many of the incredible women and men of the romance writing community. I’m so grateful to have such a supportive group of people around me. You’ll let me be as neurotic as I need to be, give me a hug, then promptly give me a good kick in the rear. 😉
So tell me—what’s your advice for handling bad feedback? Be it reviews, rejections, or contest losses, what are your strategies for getting through the bad stuff on the way to the good?
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Bio: Despite being an avid reader and closet writer her whole life, Erin Knightley decided to pursue a sensible career in science. It was only after earning her B.S. and working in the field for years that she realized doing the sensible thing wasn’t any fun at all. Following her dreams, Erin left her practical side behind and now spends her days writing. Together with her tall, dark, and handsome husband and their three spoiled mutts, she is living her own Happily Ever After in North Carolina. Find her at www.erinknightley.com, on Twitter, or on Facebook.
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