It’s finally Springtime in Chicago and the proverbial fog of random snow/hail/sleet/wind storms seems to finally be behind us. I’m about 1/4 done with the first draft of my second novel, which I have recently decided sucks, but I’m still oddly confident that I will meet my own secret deadline to complete the first draft. Call me crazy or delusional…because my secret deadline is ridiculously close, however the burst of Vitamin D that I’m getting has given me a new take on this writing thing and I have officially stopped asking for signs to undo the signs that I have already received that tell me to keep writing between ever-present moments of trying to not do anything that will traumatize my kids…even if it’s just a word a day.
But on the topic of writing things that sometimes sucks…
I recently had the great experience of being in a room with approximately ten people who thought my book sucked. Well, to be honest, they didn’t exactly say that they thought it sucked because #Blackpeoplesticktogether, however having gone to enough events where I’ve discussed my book, my Erykah Badu aka sensitive artist radar was activated as soon as I entered the room. You know, Black women are genetically incapable of completely hiding our emotions. Sure enough, it didn’t take long for my suspicions to be confirmed, at which point I channeled my mother, grandmothers, and Harriet Tubman (shout out to the new face of the $20!) and I put on my BIG GIRL PANTIES + GIRDLE and listened to the critique that the women around me provided.
The real version of myself has horrible control of my facial affect — so much so that I had to wear bandaids on my eyebrows when I pledged a sorority in college. However, as I stepped outside of myself, I couldn’t help but be proud of how far I had come as I listened to them with an open mind, heart and smile. Granted, I was also counting the minutes until I could get out of there and pour myself a drink to process the emotional defeat of the opinions that they didn’t have the heart to fully say, but that’s neither here nor there.
In the end, we agreed that I should have made the ending of the book fuller, however, I still wouldn’t change Lotus’ ultimate fate. To give her an ending in a pink bow would have done an injustice to the story because let’s face it, Lotus needs a therapist or at least three months to get her mind right after all the drama she has been through.
Nevertheless, everything happens for a reason.
Despite being born with insanely thin skin, over time, my skin has become thick as the hair in the kinky patch of my Super Mighty East African to Mississippi hair. I can take a bad review — as long as it’s constructive — and though they always sting I accept that everyone in the world didn’t like the Bible or Eat, Pray, Love or The Alchemist or Ocean’s Eleven so OF COURSE everyone in the world won’t like my book. It’s not a happy, bubbly, book. It is an unapologetically melodramatic fictional book about a women who is in the midst of an epic WTF moment.
When it’s all said and done, the weirdo in me has to admit that I have an odd preference for one star reviews over three star reviews. I know it sounds crazy, but when someone gives you one star, there is a level of passion there. I mean, they REALLY hated it. It conjured up something within them that they made them take time out of their day to open their laptop, sign into Amazon or Goodreads, and look for the one-star button. For some reason, that makes me feel better than someone who may have felt ambivalent about the book and gave it three stars. It’s weird, I know. After 2-3 years of time and effort, I like the idea of a reader being passionate about the book, even if they end up burning it in effigy.