I hope it's off to a great start for all of you. How are your resolutions holding out? I've made some changes (not resolutions) in my life this year, but I can't say it really had anything to do with the headings on a calendar. And maybe I shouldn't even use the word 'change' so much as 'continued evolution'. All of us evolve throughout the course of our lives (at least, we should), but now and then we either reach a point where we can see the change that has occurred over time, or where the accumulation of ideas and experience demands a choice. Within the last couple of months, I've experienced both of these. I debated with myself about whether or not to share some of my influences, since this isn't exactly book related, and decided that I should. Writing books is one of the ways I give life to my thoughts and ideas; if you appreciate that, then you might appreciate the following series of posts. I originally intended to make it all one post, but it's too stinking long, so, I'll share one meaningful influence a week.
#1. I attribute the foundation of most of my growth to Celebrate Recovery, which I recommend any time I get the chance. The program helps me make sense of life and stay on track with my personal values, mostly by providing a safe and affirming place to express my feelings. I've come to realize that not only have I defeated anxiety in the sense that I don't let it rule me, but I have come to the point where I rarely feel it! I have also largely rooted out codependency and perfectionism. These victories result in an ever-growing sense of freedom, vitality, and purpose, and facilitate healthier relationships. Instead of feeling tossed around all the time, I mostly make conscious choices, and say 'no' as needed. We spend the first years of our lives being taught not to say no, and the rest of our lives trying to recover from the training. This liberty still hasn't quite carried over into the ability to consistently put writing before other tasks, but growth is a process, right?
Today, I'm especially glad for all the growth I've experienced through Celebrate Recovery because I got a couple of negative reviews during my latest book promotion. I'm a girl who used to feel defeated if I got less than 100% on an assignment in school. For real. If I really hated the class, I might be OK just settling for an 'A', but in general, less than 100% really dragged me down. And I preferred to have some kind of positive note added on the paper praising my work. It's hard to admit this, but it's the ugly truth.
So, back to reviews. I've been super lucky up to now, with even the occasional three star review being fairly positive, but today I saw that Alonca's Quest has a two star review.
Honestly, before reading it I assumed that the complaint would be about the ending, since I don't really like the ending either, but it was actually a complaint about the romance! Also, the story 'jumped around' I think the person said, meaning too many points of view. Even though the review isn't what I would call a bad, bad review, (meaning it doesn't say the writing is bad, the characters are shallow, the world building is stupid, that sort of thing), I still feel like I got pinched.
But here's where I get to the personal growth part. If I had gotten a two-star review a few years ago, even one like this, I would have been crushed. I would have harped on it for weeks, my confidence eroded and my anger turning from my writing mistakes to the reviewer and back again. I would have considered a rewrite with her complaint in mind. Now, I wish I could use emojis on the blog because I'd love to post the one that's holding its belly, laughing. The reality of a person criticizing romance in a book, lamenting how she's going to have to suffer through the last book to see how it ends, is way too funny. (It's less funny that someone returned all three books and got their money back and it was probably her, but that's another story.) The growth is that I don't feel compelled to make this stranger happy. It doesn't bother me that she expressed a negative opinion about my choices. I have no compulsion to defend my story to her or anyone who reads her review. But I promise it would have tormented me in the past. As in, sleepless nights and lack of appetite.
If there's anything that has positively influenced you in the past year, please feel free to email me or post it in the comments. I love to hear about ways the world is becoming awesomer!