So yeah. I did laundry yesterday. It was dirty; now it’s clean. But today I’m airing my dirty laundry so you can see how glam it is to be an author! I typically choose NOT to read my reviews, but, dork that I am, I looked at a few last night. It keeps me humble, I suppose. Or depressive!
If I’m completely honest, hard and harsh reviews mess with my head (which is why I avoid them, good or bad).
If you’re a writer or an artist, I share this to encourage you. (Do you think I’m crazy now?) It’s proof that all sorts of things can be said about your art, even despicable things (thanks to the anonymous nature of the Internets), and you can still choose to create art. You can still persevere, realizing not everyone will like your words/pictures/music.
There are many critics in this world. Some you know. Some you don’t. And you must make a choice today to move on despite the words you hear or read. (And also to evaluate if what the critic says has merit).
Every good artist faces resistance. And every good, enduring artist finds a way to move forward despite the pain.
So, with that as the caveat, I give you my 5 most painful book reviews. If you want to read more 1 and 2 star reviews, click on the book images:
1.0 out of 5 stars Hated Daisy Chain, February 23, 2010 By A. degheest
This review is from: Daisy Chain: A Novel (Defiance Texas Trilogy) (Kindle Edition)
This was a terrible book. I did not realize until i read it that there was such a strong religious overtone at every page. The book story shows terrible values with the preacher physically and verbally abusing his wife and children on a regular basis so they become subservient to him. The story line and the ending of the book is even more troubling. What type of social skills and morale is this book recommending to young people. I will never have bought this book if I had known any of this.
My response: I agree! That’s the point of the book–to show how awful and insidious hypocrisy can be. I don’t endorse that behavior by any stretch–I expose it.
This is not a “spiritual memoir.” It’s a heavy-handed Christian memoir that’s all about finding Jesus. I gave it a chance even though I was confused after the first page. However, the flow of the story was constantly interrupted by a reminder that life is so much better after falling in love with Jesus.
After chapter three, I was convinced this book was self-published on a whim. But it’s not– it is published by the largest publisher of Bibles straight out of Michigan. If there was a good story arc in there underneath all the religion, I wouldn’t be so angry that I spent money on it. But there wasn’t. And all these glowing reviews must have been submitted by the writer’s church friends, landing her into a top tier of Kindle books on Amazon and convincing people like me to waste their money. Jesus and I are really pissed right now.
My response: I laughed out loud about all the reviews being written by my church friends! I truly hope that Jesus isn’t mad at me as this reader is. I won’t apologize for talking about Jesus in my memoir. I honestly don’t know how I could’ve written it without the intersection of Him with my story.
I found these books (Defiance Trilogy) extremely disturbing in that the author continuously makes the argument that a wife should be submissive to her husband and she deserves all the beatings she receives. Three books of a woman being brutally beaten is just too much and the constant references to the bible that seem to justify this behavior was appalling. I am a wife of 49 years and a mother as well as a Christian and I would NEVER allow myself to be beaten never mind repeatedly.
My response: This is the opposite of the message of the book. The point of the trilogy is that spousal abuse is wrong and awful. So I am not sure why the reviewer got this impression.
Didn’t like the writing style at all, the women sounds like she was traumatized by France, having to drve (sic) an ugly car and not having American luxuries in a foreign country….personally I’ve lived in France for 5 years and have simply adapted my expectations and learned the language. I appreciate certain aspects of America, but don’t go try to ‘minister’ in a foreign country if you expect to live like an American 🙁
My response: I had to laugh about the ugly car. It was ugly, but I truly didn’t care about that. (I drive an ugly car in America!) And I absolutely did not think American luxuries were something to mourn. I’m truly not sure how the reader got this? My angst from France came solely from relationships gone sour.
“I don’t write this book as a condemnation or as a sermon. The last thing I want to do is provide a `how to be the best Christian in ten easy steps’ guide. I pen these words as a fellow struggler who is learning that what we think about God matters, how we allow Him to reign in our hearts matters, and how we obey Him in the moment matters. It all matters. Everything.”
That quote seemed hopeful to me when I picked up the book. I’ve read a lot of Christian books in my 16 years of living and sadly each one has been about how to be the best Christian in 10 steps. They were filled with condemnation, legalism, and everything else you could think of to scare a teenage girl. Messed up theology is actually what drove me to depression and suicide attempts, so I actually swore to not read Christian books for a while. I recently started back up a few months ago, and have read several books that have not caused me any problems.
Everything by Mary DeMuth seemed incredibly promising, so I decided to read that next. Oh, how I wish I hadn’t. While the author mentions that she didn’t write the book as a condemnation or a 10 steps to be an awesome Christian, that’s exactly what I felt this book was about.
Quite a few of the bible verses she took out of context so it kind of seemed like she was simply saying what was best for her. This book made me feel worthless and made me feel like it’s a sin to feel accomplished about anything or decide anything for yourself.
Each page I read just made me feel more and more depressed. I was on page 80 where I had the most wonderful idea of just throwing the book into the trash. Once I did I felt this overwhelming peace.
Honestly, this book may be good for some people, but it definitely wasn’t for me. I’m not trying to be rude or offend the author at all, but it’s very rare that I actually throw a book in a trash because it’s making me depressed.
My response: I am so grieved by this review, I really don’t know what to say. Certainly it’s not my intention to depress people. Nor is it to take Scripture out of context. But I can’t change her opinion.
So, my laundry is aired, and I’m feeling a little achy. But when things like this happen, I remind myself that I am called to write, that I haven’t been given the red light in terms of writing, and ultimately, I answer to God for my career and my books.
You better bet that I take this responsibility seriously. I’m fallible. I’m needy. And God hasn’t revoked this vocation from me. Despite the heartbreak, I’ll keep writing.
And if you encounter push-back or harsh words, keep putting words on the page, or strokes on the canvas, or music to the staff. The world needs your uniquely beautiful art. Don’t give up.