The Curse of Writing

The following may come across as a little bit whiney, but I thought it might be an interesting insight into the mind of a writer. How does it feel to launch a book? Wait for reviews? Receive them? I’ll try and explain.

Over a year ago, I started writing New Dawn. I took time every weekend, about 5–10 hours, to sit down and write. Sometimes, especially towards the end, I’d write or edit in the evening after work. I’d say it was a labour of love, but it’s not really a labour at all. All that stuff, that year-plus of writing and editing—that’s the fun bit. The torment really starts when you click ‘Publish’.

I don’t get sick on rollercoasters, or planes, or boats. The first night after publishing New Dawn, I was as sick as a dog. I didn’t feel wound up or stressed or anything, just sick. A bug, perhaps? Nope—same thing happened with my previous books. Imagine packing a year’s worth of what makes you you into a .mobi document 3.5mb in size—it’s like a digital rendition of your soul, bits and bytes made up of everything from your happiest thoughts to your darkest desires—and then slapping it on the internet and saying, ‘Take your best shot, world!’

And they do. Every writer has had their fair share of negative reviews. But there are negative, and there are negative. The ones that reach into your chest cavity and tear out your heart, bloody and pumping. The ones that make you question your entire existence as a writer. They’re coming; all you can do is sit and wait.

These reviews aren’t necessarily written with a spiteful heart; in fact, more often than not,  they’re completely fair and innocent. A person is allowed to not like a book. But it’s not just a book—it’s you, and so those comments hit hard.

I’ve read every single review I’ve ever received, and my heart still skips a beat when I refresh the page and see that the number has gone up. Is it good? They probably give every book they read five stars. Is it bad? They hate me.

That’s the curse of being a writer. Positive comments glance off you like light from a mirror; you barely even notice them. The negative ones slice right through, radiation of a different, more deadly sort. I’m not alone in feeling like this, and writing isn’t the only creative profession that inflicts this kind emotional merry-go-round on its participants, but that doesn’t make it any easier to bear. It’s all highs and lows, and the actual writing serves as a useful distraction.

Well, that’s all. Sorry it was a bit whiney. Anyway, I’ve got to go and check my ratings. Pass me the sick bowl, please…


4 thoughts on “The Curse of Writing

  1. Hi Andrew, Just sending you the equivalent of a hug/pat-on-the-back. I totally agree with you; as a writer you make yourself very vulnerable to jibes/advice/slating. The challenge is to sift through the ‘randomly mean’ and see what you can learn from the ‘sensibly constructive’… not always easy. I really enjoyed New Dawn!
    So, please get writing the next one!

  2. The dreaded wait for reviews. It’s especially disheartening when your book is just not well received. NOt because of your storytelling or writing proficiency, it just doesn’t click with the world. At least you can rely on your hardcore fans.

    • Yeah, a year’s worth of work and then the negative reviews roll in, and there’s nothing you can do except learn for next time!

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