“I’m the obsessive type. I’ll read every single review, every single email, every single rejection, every single damn Goodreads/Amazon review. I’ll read between the lines, looking for something that’s probably not there. I’ll take it personal. I’m aware of this character flaw so I steel myself and take a step back. I take it as objectively as possible. I look for a cue, something that pulls out the valuable nuggets from even the most negative criticism. I look for something constructive. If it’s not there, because it can’t always be there, I’ve got those friends and allies, those maniacs that remain at a writer’s side throughout good and bad. But ultimately, I don’t think anyone ever gets used to negative criticism. Either you grow numb or the negative undercurrent is always somewhat visible, audible, poking out from every batch of good reviews. The best anyone can do is steel up and remain objective. If not, a stiff drink and a night of friendly conversation never hurts to remind you that we’re all human and, in some way, hurting.”
– Michael Seidlinger’s most recent book is The Laughter of Strangers
“For me it’s important to acknowledge the inevitability of negative criticism. If I continue to write and to publish, it is going to happen. It has happened. It is a fact of any writer’s existence. And when we get negative criticism, we are in excellent company, since it has probably happened at some point, if not at multiple points, to every writer we have ever admired.
Anyway! When faced with negative criticism, I first try to keep things in perspective. I remind myself that no one ever died from getting a 1 star-er on Goodreads or a shitty review. It sucks, but it’s not a national tragedy. Who said that thing about letting a bad review ruin one’s breakfast but not their lunch? I try to do that, or to use negative criticism as an excuse to have a cathartic dance party in the middle of the day or to do the boxing workout I am too busy/lazy to do 50% of the time. A bad review hurts, no doubt, but I try to remember that even though negative criticism can, at times, make me feel small and wounded and afraid, it will only paralyze me if I let it. I try to consider the source, which sometimes makes it better and sometimes makes it worse. I remind myself that nothing can be for everyone. More than anything, though, I try to funnel whatever hurt I might be feeling back into my work. I tell myself that one day I am going to write something so fucking amazing it will melt the eyeballs of whoever hated on my stuff in the past. I watch the Honey Badger video. Over and over. WHAT WOULD THE HONEY BADGER DO? I think we know! I remind myself that what matters most (always, always, always) is my ability to dig in and write through it.”
– Laura van den Berg’s latest collection of short stories, The Isle of Youth.
This article popped up on Flavorwire and the above sections jumped out at me.
With more than 12,000 copies of my book out in the world right now I’m sitting and anxiously awaiting feedback. While I’m grateful for the success in getting the book out there, now I begin to wonder, will people like it? Will any of the characters or stories speak to them? Is it the type of book they would recommend? Would they buy another book of mine? The biggest critique so far comes from the amount of characters I have. This was obviously a conscious decision of mine when writing, and appears on the cover of the book: ‘One hotel suite. One year. Many stories.’ I completely understand if readers don’t like this type of novel – if so, Room 702 is not for them (and in fact, they won’t like my current WIPs because there’s a lot more where that came from). Room 702 was always meant to be a book that you could pick up and read a few chapters – it’s not a character study. I know not everyone is going to ‘get’ the book, so it’s my hope that those who the book was intended for will read and enjoy.