Friday, August 8, 2014

Why I Don’t Read My Reviews by Carre Armstrong Gardner


Carre Armstrong Gardner

One of the scary things about putting your writing out there for the world to see is that it’s out there for the world to see … and judge. It can be difficult and sometimes hurtful to open ourselves up for criticism. How do we handle it? Carre Armstrong Gardner shares advice and encouragement on this topic. Enjoy! ~ Dawn

  


Why I Don’t Read My Reviews
by Carre Armstrong Gardner
  
Ernest Hemingway famously said, "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."  Surely Hemingway was talking only about the daily, private act of writing. The bigger act of having published a book that loved ones and strangers are actually holding in their hands isn’t so much like sitting at a typewriter and bleeding. It’s more like laying yourself across a butcher block, plunging a knife into your guts, and inviting everyone to come and have an opinion about your blood.  

My first novel had been released about 2 weeks when I realized it wasn’t a good idea for me to read the reviews it was getting. In one morning, I might read 5 great reviews and a single cutting one, but guess which one stayed with me all day? Which hung around at my heels, tugging insistently at my shirttail like some morose, runny-nosed kid, until I was driven, sniveling, into the pantry, where I crouched in a corner and ate spoonfuls of Nutella straight from the jar?

For most of us criticism has a way of ringing truer than praise. I think this is an unfortunate outcome of having been taught that polite people don’t toot their own horns. Which of us doesn’t secretly dislike a braggart? Somehow, it seems okay to think meanly of ourselves, but it’s a bit over-the-top to think we’re really great at something.Yet isn’t the habit of self-deprecation kind of like saying that you’re one of God’s “factory seconds?” That the gifts He’s given you are only second-rate ones? I mean…is it even possible for God to turn out “factory seconds?”Still, most of us (myself included) are not very accomplished at embracing, with confidence, our God-given awesomeness.

Meanwhile, it turns out the praise and the criticism I’m getting for my book amount to exactly the same thing: that All Right Here is not what readers expect in a “Christian” novel. Whether or not that’s a good thing depends on who’s reading it. In writing as in anything, trying to please everyone is the surest route to pleasing no one at all.

What I’m learning through my agony on the butcher block is this:  if you’re going to survive to write another day, you have to learn the art of bleeding without thought for the onlookers. This is not just good advice for writing. It’s good advice for life. Bleed freely and merrily and warmly, and with everything you have. One thing nobody can argue with is your authentic story: tell it. It is your blood: bleed it. In the end, that’s all you can do.



Tweetables:


Writing is like laying yourself across a butcher block, plunging a knife into your guts, and inviting everyone to come and have an opinion about your blood. Click to tweet.

Isn’t the habit of self-deprecation kind of like saying that you’re one of God’s “factory seconds?” Click to tweet.

Most of us are not very accomplished at embracing, with confidence, our God-given awesomeness. Click to tweet.

In writing as in anything, trying to please everyone is the surest route to pleasing no one at all. Click to tweet.





Ivy Darling can’t have children of her own, and her husband Nick’s resentment is forcing them apart. And while Ivy has the support and love of her large, close-knit family, Nick’s family has never welcomed her into theirs. When the three children next door are abandoned by their mother, Ivy and Nick take them in for the night. One night becomes several, and suddenly Ivy and Nick find themselves foster parents to the only African-American kids in the town of Copper Cove, Maine. As Ivy grows more attached to the children, Nick refuses to accept their eclectic household as a permanent family. Just as Ivy begins to question whether or not she wants to save her emotionally barren marriage, Nick begins to discover how much Ivy and the children mean to him. But is his change of heart too little, too late?



Carre Armstrong Gardner writes from the big small town of Portland, ME, where she's the mom of 3 teenagers and 2 rescue dogs she wishes she didn't own. (Only the dogs, not the teenagers.) When she's not writing, she works as a Registered Nurse at a local hospital.

To learn more and connect with Carre visit:



 

9 comments:

  1. Isn't it sad that we always remember the negative over the positive?

    "... you have to learn the art of bleeding without thought for the onlookers." Great line, Carre.

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    1. Thanks, Sandra: unfortunately, what's so easy to say is taking me a lifetime to learn to put into practice. I keep pressing onward though! Trying to always act for an Audience of One.

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  2. "Writing is like laying yourself across a butcher block, plunging a knife into your guts, and inviting everyone to come and have an opinion about your blood." Ack, but so true! Thanks for such an encouraging post, Carre. ALL RIGHT HERE sounds fabulous!

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    1. Thanks Dora: Add to that that a good many writers are introverts who don't love the spotlight. It turns out writing was much more comfortable when I was anonymous.

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  3. Thanks for your wise words, Carre. Indeed, focus on others' opinions can make one vain or paranoid. It's hard to keep eyes on God's opinion foremost. Let's keep practicing!

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    1. Fear of man will always prove to be a snare. I can't improve on those words of wisdom!

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  4. Hi Carre (had to double check spelling LOL).... Reviews are sure a double edged sword. I think writers are quite sensitive people and the one cutting review will stand out much than a good one. I know as a teacher, it was hard to write a D or F down for a student, no matter how deserved....very thoughtful post.

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    1. Oh, hats off to you, Tanya: being a teacher is probably the last job I'd ever want to do in this world! As far as my name goes, it's hardly ever been spelled right in my life, so I've learned not to be sensitive about it. I also have an identical twin sister, so not only has my name never been spelled right, but I've never been called by the RIGHT name. I'll answer to anything, really. :)

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  5. My novel released last Tuesday--I needed this!

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