I’m in the editing stage of The Long Road East (can’t put italics around it yet), and already I’ve begun to question the response this book will get.
Part of me hates what I’ve written, that what’s on the page no longer fits the narrative I was once confident in, but I also know that there’s no turning back now, nor will there ever be a good time to subject myself to outside criticism.
Three years ago, I learned that some people fear ambition, to the point that they’re willing to go after others who exhibit that characteristic.
Case in point:
Someone wrote a review on Amazon (since removed, but not by me) saying that my first book, The Long Road North, sucked.
According to that person, I’m a narcissist, my grammar is awful, and my book belongs somewhere in a dumpster.
A different person had this to say:
“This book is god awful. It sits somewhere between erotica, a manifesto, and a middle school paper with just a hint of racism and fat shaming. That being said if you like second hand cringe this book would be a real page turner.”
When I first read this, my heart sank.
I had been persecuted before, but now this was a public condemnation, a form of dissent shared for all the internet to read.
I was so bothered that I wanted Jeff Bezos himself to decry this person’s sentiments.
And for about two days I was in a funk, paranoid the person who wrote this would show up at my doorstep and shoot me for attempting to do something with my life.
Adding to my dismay, a few days later, I was scrolling through Facebook and saw that my cousin had written a post calling for everyone in our extended family to refrain from purchasing my book.
My cousin also said that my book was only possible because I was part of the privileged and entitled class who got everything handed to me on a silver platter.
Aghast, I closed my phone, not because I was surprised this particular person wrote something so vile, but because it was evidence that the world owes me nothing.
Fortunately, I usually don’t let life get me down. After I process discomfort, it typically falls by the wayside and it becomes easy to continue on with life.
Immediately following the negativity, I began blogging again, asking the world why it seemed every woman owned a cat, and then soon after it was time to write The Long Road East.
I didn’t know what I wanted The Long Road East to be about, but I knew I had to start writing just so the memories that were then fresh in my brain wouldn’t escape.
Over time, life got busy and my progress on the book slowed, but that delay was essential because then I was able to gain perspective on the kind of story I wanted to write.
Slowly but surely, three years later, the book is done, and already I’m beginning to think about how I want to document my twelve months in Beijing, China, a place that every day I miss but am content to memorialize in my head, as if that place is now gone and can never be replaced.
What’s crazy about life is that things really do come full-circle. I used to give money to people who were less fortunate, and now the world has given me a job that allows me to pay my bills.
I also gave the world a piece of art, and while it obviously gave me some criticism in return, it also afforded me some much-appreciated joy.
Here are a few nice things people had to say about The Long Road North:
These quotes were also pulled directly from my book’s Amazon page.
“I literally couldn’t put this book down. I read this book from cover to finish in one sitting. I like the book’s edginess and applaude the author for baring his true thoughts.”
“I didn’t know what to expect…but I found this read hard to put down…fun to see the behind the scenes thinking of the journey…as. Well as the behind the scenes thinking and feeling to life’s journey and the people in it. So well described you could even put yourself along with him. Can’t wait to read his next…”
Yeah, I’m human. I enjoy reading laudatory comments regarding my work. It makes me feel good, and then I wonder why I even care about the hate that has come my way. Of course, as a vulnerable and broken individual, I’m inclined to dwell on the bad.
But I should do my best to ignore those fleeting feelings of destruction.
My life isn’t defined by my mistakes, nor is my book defined by the keyboard warriors who loathe its existence.
The Long Road North is what it is, and until the Library of Congress burns down, it will always be just another book among the 130 million that have come before it.
My thoughts regarding all these various opinions:
They’re only going to make me better.
See, I can’t write a book that will satisfy everyone, and nor should I.
That would be a waste of time, but what I can do is continue to put in the hours so that perhaps one day the review section of one of my books is littered with endearing sentiments and five-star ratings.
Well, starting next year, I’ll likely continue to get inundated with hate, plus a dash of positive reinforcement.
Such is the journey of an aspiring scribe, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
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