Social media. It’s the greatest tool at our disposal in the self-publishing world. I think it’s safe to say that we, indie authors, would be completely lost without it. It has given writers a chance to cut corners and publish their work without facing rejection letters and having to wait months, possibly even years, before being picked up by an agent or a traditional publishing house. It can be the deciding factor of your writing career, because it can make you. Or it can break you.
Unfortunately for some, it could come down to the latter.
This afternoon, I discovered the book world in a frenzy over a post that an indie author shared on social media regarding an unfavorable review of her book. Since I’m not writing this post to put in my two cents about the situation, I won’t go into specifics about it. However, I felt compelled to write this because the mess this author has found herself in has made me think about the one question that all writers should be able to answer…why do we write?
I can’t speak on behalf of other writers, but my answer is simple:
I write for myself.
I write for my own personal enjoyment. Because I love this craft. It’s my outlet. My way to unwind at the end of a stressful day. An escape from the real world when it becomes too taxing to deal with. It’s my heart, my mind, and my soul in words.
It’s my sanity.
And if I choose to share what I write with the world, that is of my own accord. I share my words in hopes that others will find enjoyment reading them in the same way I enjoyed writing them. But this is the real world, folks, and the truth of the matter is, that is not always the case.
The world is full of critics. In fact, we are ALL critics in some way, shape, or form. My fashionista sister often criticizes my fashion sense (or lack thereof), but I still love her. My mother never fails to criticize my tattoos or piercings, but I know she only has the best intentions for me. My four-year-old daughter makes it a point to tell me to put on makeup before we leave the house, but I would never disagree with her on that one. See? We are all critics.
But that’s okay. I’m a critic, and I’m not ashamed of it. And why should I be? We NEED critics. Our world would not function without them. How boring would the world be if everyone had the same outlook on life? If everyone shared the same favorable opinions? We’d have no emotional connection to anything. And if that’s the case, then what’s the point of the creative arts? Why should painters paint? Why should singers sing? Why should writers write? What’s the point of sharing art with people if it’s not meant to stir the emotions, whether they elicit a positive or a negative reaction? Have you ever seen the movie Equilibrium with Christian Bale? Do me a favor—watch it. It has such a valuable message in regard to what I’m trying to say here (and plus, it’s a fantastic film).
What it all boils down to is this:
If an artist—specifically in this case, a writer—makes it his or her choice to make their work public, it is susceptible to criticism. In a perfect world, we would put our work out there and everyone would rate it five stars. One and two-star ratings wouldn’t exist. The alphabet would consist of 23 letters instead of 26 because the dreaded D-N-F would not be a part of it. And trust me, as a writer/author, I’ve been there. And it sucks. It really freaking sucks, because the last thing you want to hear after you’ve poured your heart and time into your work is a bad review.
But that’s the nature of the game we’re playing here, ladies and gents. We know what we're getting ourselves into when we go into this craft. We have to go in with thick skin and a lot of heart. We’re playing to win, but it doesn’t come without a few falls, bumps, and scratches along the way. And the only thing we can do is get up, hold our heads up high, and keep on playing.
And so, I leave you with this, one of the greatest pieces of writing in the history of the written word, and one of the greatest gifts that our Founding Fathers gave to this country:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” –The First Amendment of the United States Bill of Rights