The other day, a piece that I wrote (on assignment) for Mother’s Day started making its way around Facebook. A couple of my friends “shared” the piece, and so some people read it and started commenting. Most of the comments were generally affirming and nice. And then… there was the negative review.
A person I do not know read my piece and disagreed whole-heartedly not just with the content but with my writing style. The comment left on Facebook was not mean, but it was strongly anti-my-writing. This person called my writing “syrupy” and “sentimental.”
And OH! It hurts. For all of the positive affirmation I get for my writing (my MOM said she liked the piece), one negative comment can send me into a tailspin of self-doubt and defensiveness. It took everything I had in me to not jump onto Facebook and basically say “Well, it was a piece written for MOTHER’S DAY! OF COURSE it was sentimental! Plus, that’s what I was PAID to write. Also, you MISSED THE POINT! I was trying to get away from the sentimentalizing of motherhood!” Then I was going to quit writing and go buy a pint of Haggen Daas Coffee Ice Cream. Instead, I logged out of Facebook, turned off the computer, and poured myself a regular cup of coffee. (Then I decided to blog about it. So much for letting it go.)
I know that I have a tendency to be saccharine and wordy when I write. I just don’t like it when someone calls me on it. The piece in question… it’s a little syrupy. And pretty sentimental. It was, after all, written for Mother’s Day. But it could have been toned down. I kind of wish I had had the time to tone it down. But I turned in clean copy on time. Now it’s out there, and there is at least one person who does not like it. And that hurts.
I am currently trying to put together a book proposal, and I’m finding it somewhat difficult. I’m intimidated by the scale of the project, and I’m afraid that someone out there won’t like it.
The truth is, when we put pen to paper and publish something, it belongs to the world and someone out there won’t like it. But we can’t write so that people will like us. I can’t write just so that someone will like me. I have to write for the sake of writing. Not everything I write will be great. Hell, most of what I write won’t even be that good. But it will be written, and I have to think that there is some value in that.
I think I need to grow some thicker skin now.