Negative Review Positive Opportunity

Oct 1, 2014 by

This could be potentially painful.

“I read the book only because it’s for the book club, and the book club chose the book only because one of the members knows the (local) author. I’m guessing it’s younger than a YA book, even though the heroine is 13 years old. Borrowing heavily from the Pandora’s Box story, this version is revamped to Pandora’s Jar and that “Hope” was never let out of the Jar. The heroine of the story, Charis, is a reincarnated Grace whose mission is to open the Jar and let Hope out to save mankind. There, you have the whole story. Skip the book.

The author attempted to make the book ‘smart’ by mixing in (borrowing) a lot of Greek Mythology. Those were the best parts. The less than smart parts were attempts in making the story ‘urban’, with several ‘what tha’ tossed in. Completely unnecessary. Also, “Zeus made it with Metis to create Athena”. Is ‘made it’ supposed to be urban for sex or is it a typo for ‘mated’. Argh. I appreciated the Harry Potter books and Hunger Games books for being true to the language and having an original story. This is a borrowed, revamped story with an unaccomplished goal for an ending, ready for a sequel. Oh, heck no!

Oh yeah, along the way, Charis learns she’s special, strong, brave, and her curiosity is good. Lesson of the book. Check.

My rating went lower and lower as I write this review. Bah humbug. 1 1/2 stars.”

So went my first negative book review, though “negative” seems too soft a word. This review goes beyond the pale of negative and flirts seductively with mean, nasty, personal even.

Photo credit: Green Laces

So be it.

I initially wanted to answer her criticism by meeting her vitriol keystroke by keystroke, so I wrote an eloquent and equally mean response. In my anger, I explained everything from why it’s called a jar and not a box to my decision about using the phrase “made it” and why Charis says “what tha’”.

I bounced around the idea of posting my angry answer among my facebook friends and seethed while they, nearly without exception, encouraged me not to.  Apparently, their collective opinions of me won’t allow me to stoop and keep company with the likes of this reviewer.  While that frustrated me and tied my hands from hitting the send button, it also lifted my head a bit.  I’m highly regarded among those who know me, and they think weathering incidents like being publicly, anonymously insulted make me stronger, more beautiful, and a role model.

I agree, so I’ve chosen to write this post instead. I’ve chosen to shine a light on a dark moment in my publishing experience to relinquish it of its power to shame or discourage me. I’ve been so afraid that people will see it and ridicule me because of it. I’ve been so embarrassed and hung low.  It was that fear and shame that angered me and drove me to write my first, hateful response.  But, the thing is, I’m not hateful. Bah humbug isn’t a true disposition for me.  And, if I’m being honest, I want to learn from this moment … more grace, more self control, more strength to exercise courage and commit to my dream, criticism be damned.

A friend once told me that while we may not be able to control all the voices in our lives, we can control how much volume we give them. This moment provides a perfect example of that. Let me explain.

Yesterday, after days of contemplation, I finally decided to answer this reviewer.  Ironically, it was the same day that an article about another, national reviewer showed up in my twitter feed.  I was thrilled about the article, happy for the reviewer, and reminded that he really liked my book.  After basking in my joy for Erik, This Kid Reviews Books, I returned my attention to my negative nelly and how to go in for her jugular.  It wasn’t until this morning that I remembered the volume thing.  I remembered and then I repented … of my anger, of my pride, of my need to inflict equal harm. I then turned my attention to every good word, every encouragement, every comment that has felt like a pat on the back and spurred me on as a writer, a dreamer.  I turned down the volume of negativity and blasted the sound of praise.

Life is full of moments like these, and the lessons learned from pain can be valuable, fortifying things if we let them.  If you are presently in a struggle for what feels like your worth, your value, I want to take the opportunity to say that, plus nothing, you are precious and what you do matters regardless of what others might think.  Be happy. Do joy. Live peace.  Loudly. And, about those who say you can’t, you won’t, you shouldn’t, turn them down.  It’s just chatter anyway.

Peace and Blessings,


Nicole Y. Walters

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