The Inevitable World of Reviews

**It has been an exciting time around here, with much going on! First off, let me apologize for my long absence from writing blog posts. This fall, my family got involved with helping a family who had fallen in hard times due to job loss and subsequent homelessness. As this is a situation close to our hearts, we felt compelled to help. What started out as just going to make a few phone calls morphed into so much more, including an amazing friendship for which we are extremely grateful. But, the time required wasn’t the most conducive for writing.**

So, moving on: the biggest news, of course, is that my first book, A Good Kind of Crazy was released by my publisher, Solstice Publishing, at the beginning of October. It was a surreal experience and one that I will never forget. After posting that my book was due to go live in the next few days, one of my good friends, who has been very supportive of my writing, called me from across the country at 10:30 at night to tell me that he found it on Amazon.com and had purchased a copy. All at once, I was oscillating between wanting to run around screaming and wanting to gather up all of the possible copies in the world and hug them tightly so that no one else could see them. It was a strange experience, creating something so personal for public consumption. While I logically knew that the whole world would potentially have access to it once the novel was published, the news left me feeling cold and exposed, because I was exposing a part of my inner workings; my soul.

Though very little in my own life has mimicked my main character Kat’s experiences in betrayal, there are definitely parts in this novel that encompass my reality. Though further along on her parenting journey than I am, I certainly admit to already struggling with what my place in this world is now that my children are growing up and becoming more self-sufficient, and therefore less in need of my constant engagement. I already dread the time when my youngest of four is in his last semester of high school and preparing to make his own way in this world. Even now, I also struggle with an all-too quiet house in the mornings, especially on Mondays, and will sometimes turn on the TV or radio just for some background noise. Even my 21- year marriage struggles at times, as we work together to combat the inevitable ups and downs of fatigue, boredom, differences of opinion, and even the discontent that sometimes comes from being with the same person, day in and day out, slogging through the not-so-great parts of family life. Most of the time, my life is pretty awesome; I wouldn’t change a thing. Sometimes, though, just like Kat, I wonder what the heck I’m doing here and where my life is going.

But, the book came out and thus far, the reception has been great! I’m so thrilled whenever someone tells me that they loved it! The most common compliment I have received by far has been, “I couldn’t put it down!” I recently spoke to a local book club which had read my book, and two women, who shared that they had gone through their own personal relationship upheavals, asked if I had experienced anything like Kat’s situation, as I had written it so accurately. That kind of feedback that is easy to love!

However, as with everything in this world, whenever there is a chance to review something, there will also be those who won’t like what I created. They may not like the story line, the characters, or simply the way I strung words together. It could be that, for example in a book club, it may not be someone’s genre of choice. And that’s okay, too. I’m keenly aware that women’s romantic escapism is not everyone’s cup of tea. But, while I hope my writing appeals to many, it doesn’t really bother me when it doesn’t. I recently had an epiphany that I feel this way because I wrote what I needed at the time.

When I wrote A Good Kind of Crazy, my life was in shambles. Our family was struggling with a job loss, a job that we had moved across the country for no less, and health issues, as well as all of the financial stressors that came along with both the burdens above. I wasn’t kidding when I explained in my dedication that I started to write to keep me out of the room with the rubber walls while wearing the coat with the many buckles. I was emotionally and physically drained; my life was at about the lowest point it had ever been. Of course I was grateful for my family and friends. I was happy that my husband didn’t up and join the circus, as Lord knows there were plenty of times he probably wanted to… Logically, I also knew that despite our hardships, we still were better off than many, many others. But, that gratitude was not enough to unburden my heart. I felt that my world was careening out of control and I was powerless to stop it. So, I did the only acceptable thing I could think of for a married mother of four in her forties: I began to write a story that allowed me to escape and immerse myself into a world that I could fully control. I fled to a place where characters were perhaps too good to be true, where people shirked their responsibilities- with little consequence- while engaging in self-care and discovery, and an ending that was happy for almost everyone (even James), all wrapped up in a perfect conclusion.

While I hope that the majority of my readers find my little piece of peace- my adult fairy tale- enjoyable, at the risk of sounding conceited, and perhaps even a bit rude, I really don’t care when some don’t. The truth is that I wrote this for me: what I needed to write (and what I would want to read), especially at that point in my existence. Life was hard enough: I had no desire (and still don’t, actually) to write a more realistic- or even dystopic- story, full of even more stress and/or misery than what I was already personally experiencing.

I realize now that writing a novel became a lifeline for me. When I first stood in the shower on cold January morning, I wondered if I even could do it. I recall thinking that I would be lucky to get twenty-five pages out of it. Then, once I got rolling, I speculated if I could finish it. Four months and five hundred and fifty-something pages later, I next wondered if I could get it published. (And write another, which I did.) Writing, then the subsequent act of trying to get published, became goals that only I could attain. Unlike everything else in my messy and chaotic life, this all fell only on me. This was a test of my will; I pushed myself to be better, to succeed, while everything else around me felt like it was mired in failure and despair.

So, if people love a little escapism, great! I am thrilled if they like it! If they don’t, that’s fine, too. But no matter what anyone else says, I know that I wrote a book (in four months!) and got it published. Then I wrote second one in four more months, then a third in a year, all while working on getting a publisher for the first and editing the second. Regardless of what anyone else says or thinks, I obtained my goals. I hope that people enjoy what I wrote, but nonetheless, I already know I was successful, even if a few reviews try to say otherwise.

2 thoughts on “The Inevitable World of Reviews

  1. Any time you put yourself out to the world there will be haters, but luckily most are fans! I feel like writing should first and foremost be for the writer. If there’s a market for it, it will sell. If not, you still fed your soul. My worst selling book of all time I still go back to often because, like you, I wrote exactly what I needed for me. Blessings to you!

    Like

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