So, someone read one of my books. And they didn’t like it.
This is not the first time this has happened, obviously. But this is the first time I’ve heard about it and the first time someone has written a review about it. My great fear has always been that someone would write a review about how they can see why I’m a self-published writer, picking apart my plots, my characters, and my writing style, then throwing a scathing remark or two about my theology. So, when I saw the low star rating, I took a breath, preparing myself.
Lo and behold, there was no gripe about any of that. No, the complaint was that this particular story had too much sexual content to be classified as Christian fiction.
(Cue the sound of everyone busting out their Kindles to find the sexiness! Hey, that’s what I did!)
“Look at this,” I said to Wes when he came home. He read it… then looked at me with some confusion. And because this particular book is the only one he’s read all the way through, I took him seriously when he said, “Well, I didn’t get that.”
I told him, jokingly, that she’d probably inadvertently raised the interest level and sales for the book by suggesting that it’s spicier than it is. (Ha! People are going to be disappointed.) I can say honestly that my intention in writing this book was never to scandalize anyone or to veer into areas that people would find questionable. I can sleep with a clear conscience, knowing that I was careful with every scene and every word, trying to portray reality accurately so as to create a better, clearer in-road for Gospel truth. In fiction. (Because there can be great Gospel truth in fiction!)
I put it behind me… but it stayed with me.
Despite all the wonderful things that people have said about the stories I’ve written, all the affirmation that readers have given, all that I say about not needing any praise at all… this negative review stuck with me longer than I would have liked. And I know that this is part of life, accepting criticism, whether it’s deserved or not, and moving on. But in a forest of positives, I was having a hard time seeing around that one negative tree.
There’s a great analogy there (that doesn’t involve sex, which is what I write about — okay, getting over it, seriously) that’s applicable to more than just writing. In our circumstances, our relationships, and our lives, how often do we lose sight of the positives because we’re so easily caught up in the negatives? I’m not encouraging everyone to have their best life now, because life is hard, and things aren’t always great. But how often do we miss the blessings of God because we can’t see past disappointments? And how often do we hold people to an unfair standard, forgetting all they’ve done “right” because we can’t get past a handful of “wrongs” they’ve done towards us? How often do we throw our hands up in frustration when one little thing goes wrong after so many things have gone right?
I’m really challenged to remember how to keep things in a healthy perspective in all areas of my life, thanks to this review. When we hit bumps in the road, it’s nice to look back and remember that the highway has been clear for the majority of the trip. Here’s hoping I can be more positive about the situations, the people, and the circumstances all around me…