The Words of Others

As a writer, I spend a lot of time worrying over my own words. But what I’ve come to realize is that lots of writers (myself included) spend almost as much time worrying over the words of others. It’s hard to send your darlings out for judgment. And I will admit to spending more time than I should reading reviews of my babies on Amazon and on Goodreads. For me, because I’m just starting out, any review is a good review. Okay, well, not ANY review. I kind of feel like unless a writer is clearly a hack, we should just abide by the rule “if you don’t have something nice to say…” you know where I’m going with that. Why tear down a writer who is just trying to get her ground?

The point of this post was not to rail against bad reviews (and I’ve had a few. You’re welcome to go read them….) Instead, it’s to try to tell myself and other writers that it is okay to prefer the good ones. It’s okay to seek validation of your work and to celebrate when it comes. Writing is a lonely task at times, and having someone say, “hey, you’re doing a good job” feels good.

Tonight I spoke at the Charles County chapter of the Maryland Writers’ Association, a group that I support in my local county as well. When I returned home, I sat down to see if any of the pre-read reviews on Redemption Red had been posted at Goodreads yet. Then I wandered over to Amazon because, frankly, I can’t help myself. I like to see my sales ranks. And while there, I noticed a new review for Through A Dusty Window. I cringed…that book is so different from everything else I’ve done. It’s not sexy or easy… it’s literary fiction and it’s short stories, and it’s historical fiction. But I kind of love it. And when the review turned out to be a good one — glowing even — I might’ve sniffled a bit. Here’s my favorite line:

The author writes well, extremely well. Found myself saying, “Wish I had thought of that.” The first words grab hold of you, the last leave you with a feeling of wanting more, and those in the middle put you directly into the scene. Carry on Delancey Stewart.

I’m going to bed now… but that’s going to carry me through quite a few tough days ahead. Thank you to all readers who take the time to let writers know when they’re doing things you like. Good night!

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