Welcome to Following the Whispers blog
Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.
“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf
“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt
Monday, May 18, 2009
Book Reviews and Self Worth
I was lucky with my first review. It came from a woman I "met" in a Yahoo Group called "Lifewriters Forum." Her review appears in the right-hand column of my blog home page. I was on cloud nine when I read it--Sharon had totally gotten me--it felt like a validation of all the pain I'd gone through, the hard work to write the memoir, and the journey towards publishing.
The PR person who had sent out releases soliciting book reviews had also sent queries to blog hosts. I had only hired her for one month, so it was up to me to make the follow up calls, attempting to get more reviews. One such follow up resulted in an email, informing me that my book had been reviewed two weeks ago, whereupon she sent along the link to her blogsite. Wish she hadn't!!
The review started off all right, praising the writing and the flow of the narrative. But then it veered off into a personal attack of me and the choices I'd made in my life. I was completely thrown off balance by this "review" and was discombobulated for days.
The outpouring of support and words of wisdom from the various internet groups I now belong to helped pull me out of the doldrums. Several people asked to read the review, in order to better comment on it. I'm going to share some of the advice I received, because as you move forward in your journeys, whether you are an author about to publish a book, or a person living their life, at some point you will encounter someone who attacks you personally. Here are some things to remember:
Mother Teresa had this version inscribed on the wall of her children's home in Calcutta:
PEOPLE ARE OFTEN UNREASONABLE, ILLOGICAL AND SELF CENTERED;
FORGIVE THEM ANYWAY.
IF YOU ARE KIND, PEOPLE MAY ACCUSE YOU OF SELFISH, ULTERIOR MOTIVES;
BE KIND ANYWAY.
IF YOU ARE SUCCESSFUL, YOU WILL WIN SOME FALSE FRIENDS AND SOME TRUE ENEMIES;
IF YOU ARE HONEST AND FRANK, PEOPLE MAY CHEAT YOU;
BE HONEST AND FRANK ANYWAY.
WHAT YOU SPEND YEARS BUILDING, SOMEONE COULD DESTROY OVERNIGHT;
IF YOU FIND SERENITY AND HAPPINESS, THEY MAY BE JEALOUS;
BE HAPPY ANYWAY.
THE GOOD YOU DO TODAY, PEOPLE WILL OFTEN FORGET TOMORROW;
DO GOOD ANYWAY.
GIVE THE WORLD THE BEST YOU HAVE, AND IT MAY NEVER BE ENOUGH; GIVE THE WORLD THE BEST YOU'VE GOT ANYWAY.
YOU SEE, IN THE FINAL ANALYSIS, IT IS BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR GOD;
IT WAS NEVER BETWEEN YOU AND THEM ANYWAY.
My husband is an actor and has been reviewed constantly for over 40 years. He never reads reviews.. He says if you believe the good ones you have to believe the bad ones, so it's best not to believe them at all. A review is only one person's opinion, and you have no idea what's informing that opinion out of his or her experience. And it is unlikely to affect book sales seriously. And of course, we all must live with the fact that if we put something out there in the public venue, we are taking a risk and must be prepared to accept whatever comes with that. Also, we must learn to separate our work from our selves, and be prepared to take criticism of our work without feeling it's a personal attack. The kind of experience you just had with this review will be helpful to you in developing a better philosophy and a thicker skin. It will help you stand in your own truth, and once you do that, a fierce wind may shake you but not topple you altogether.I've included here a couple of quotes that have helped me weather these kind of storms. Hope they help you...Many blessings,
"It costs so much to be a full human being, that there are very few who have the enlightenment or courage to pay the price. One has to abandon altogether the search for security and reach out to the risk of living with both arms. One has to embrace the world like a lover. One has to accept pain as a condition of existence. One has to court doubt and darkness as the cost of knowing. One needs a will stubborn in conflict, but apt always to total acceptance of every consequence of living and dying."
- from The Shoes of the Fisherman
"it is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out where the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumphs of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither defeat or victory."
No real reviewer would put such critical details in a review, or position themselves in judgment. Most reviewers focus on the message not the author’s personal decisions as revealed in the story.
It is actually full of some very grand and quite positive quotes in the first part, that you can cull and use in quotations when promoting, without quoting the source. As for the rest of it, it steps way out of bounds and goes entirely downhill, the mark of an amateur, and in fact, the reviewer is doing just what he/she accuses you of doing! It's overwritten, and it's rubbish.
The biggest lesson for me about book reviews is that I allowed what someone said to affect how I felt about myself. It is one of the lingering affects of being sexually abused as a young child, as well as not receiving unconditional love from my parents. I don't have a foundation of love from which to draw upon.
So, a cautionary note to writers seeking reviews. Check out the blog sites before seeking an opinion. Read other reviews by the reviewer to make sure they are professional and that criticism is done in good taste.
A new review just appeared in New Mexico Magazine. It is a positive one. Now I know, positive or negative, book reviews will not change who I am or my status as a writer or a person. It is just one person's opinion.