why am I doing this, again?

Sometimes I forget.

Oh, right… I love writing. I have stories to tell.  Okay.

Hey seems like a perfect time for an Insecure Writer’s Support Group post! (Don’t forget to visit the other IWSG bloggers!)


NaNo was a total fail for me (not surprising) so I shelved the project I’d started for it (very surprising) and started a new one. I’m really into the new one, though, so it might work out.

I think part of my problem with the NaNo story was it was too outside of my comfort zone. I tried to write some kind of mystery/romance and that just isn’t my thing. I don’t even love reading that, honestly. So why did I try to write it? I think in a bid to be more mainstream, more “serious” as an author. And if I’m honest, I was thinking about a lot of reviews I’ve got on my other stories (I know! I’m not supposed to read them or care. I do, though.)

The thing is, a lot of reviewers don’t like what I write. The worst part is, they are “getting” my stories. I can’t say, “oh, you don’t understand what I was trying to do with this story” because they totally do. They just don’t like it. And I know I shouldn’t read reviews, but I do, and then I let that influence my writing. How can it not, once I’ve read it?

I get plenty of good reviews, too, so I’m not complaining. But the bad ones stick with me longer, I have to admit.

I worry that I just don’t have the skills to write a compelling story. Or that I’ll just never be more than a quirky niche writer. Maybe that’s okay. Maybe I just need to come to terms with that. I don’t know. I was feeling pretty upset about it all, honestly. Then I went to Chipotle (veggie burrito, brown rice, extra guac) and my “cultivating thought” bag contained this perfect quote:

“When I was in high school there were 500 people in my graduating class. Out of those 500 people I had two best friends and five other real friends. So I had a true connection with seven people and did not have a true connection with 493 people. Now I create stories and hope that 500 out of 500 people will appreciate the work. That is impossible. I don’t love most things I see or listen to, why should they? The truth is I should be happy with seven people being touched or amused by my work. I think it is okay to accept the fact that most people won’t get you. We don’t need to like each other so much. We need to be kind and respect each other.”

-Judd Apatow Link to the full text here

So now I feel better, sort of. And I had a massive burrito, so there’s that.

How about you? Do reviews influence your projects? How do you deal with knowing you’ve disappointed readers? Are you okay with pleasing a small number of readers, or do you crave hordes of fans?

9 thoughts on “why am I doing this, again?

  1. Great post 🙂 That quote is really great advice, for writers – or for anyone putting their work out for judgement.
    Personally I’ve learned not to read negative reviews because they have such a detrimental effect on my creativity. I don’t want to try and force myself to write differently to try and please the critics. If I did that, then I’d only lose regular readers who already like what I’m doing.
    You can never please everyone, but I think my instinctive desire is to do exactly that. I could drive myself crazy trying. So, my solution is to focus on the positive feedback and keep writing what I enjoy.

    • Thanks!
      Yeah, I feel like I might have to just forbid myself from reading them. I take them too much to heart, and it does impact my writing in a negative way.
      So funny how things happen, isn’t it? I mean I literally had half this post written, was feeling pretty down about a particularly negative review, and went to Chipotle for lunch… and that quote was on my bag! Perfect timing, for me. It really did make me feel better.
      Thanks so much for stopping by!

  2. The thing about being a niche writer is that suddenly that niche could become huge! Trends change all the time. I think that having a unique style and voice is a definite plus.

    But I definitely get the ‘why am I doing this’ moments. LIke now. When I have the worst writers block and i have no idea why!!

    • True! Maybe there will be a sudden interest in realistic, non-hero, everyday type male leads in m/m Romance, and then I will be golden! (It could happen)
      I hope your writer’s block goes away. That is sort of the situation I was in, I just couldn’t move forward with the story I started for NaNo no matter what I tried. Finally I just started a new story, and I have had no troubles so far. Maybe you should work on a piece of flash or something to get your juices flowing again? Are you participating in the December house of manlove hop? (I have to get started on something for that soon if I’m going to do it!)
      Good luck with the writing 🙂

  3. I’m still at the point where I don’t read the bad reviews because I know it will get into my head and make my crazy.

    It sounds like you’re better off sticking with the new project. I was reading Donald Maas this morning (Writing the Breakout Novel) and he talks about the same thing…marketability versus passion. The key to standing out in the flood of books is writing a better story. It’s hard to achieve that kind of quality when you’re not emotionally invested in what you’re writing.

      • lol no worries, I knew what you meant 🙂
        Yeah, I know I shouldn’t read them, but it is sooo hard to not look at reviews!
        I think you are right, though, trying to write a story that I have no passion for is not working out. Maybe I am just not a skilled enough writer? I don’t know. But the only way I will get better is to write stories I love. Also how horrible it must be to face the whole editing process with a story you are not totally into. Ugh, not something I want to deal with. The fact I love my stories and my characters makes all the re-reading, editing, and tweaking much more bearable.
        Hopefully my new WIP will be both a better story AND one I am passionate about ❤

  4. Wow, I hear you! At least you attempted NaNo. I didn’t even give it a shot. And I’m still berating myself over it, because I’ve yet to write a novel. Closest I’ve gotten is 45,000 words. That 50,000 mark keeps alluding me.

    You talked about your comfort zone. I recently had some experience with that, having broken away from my contemporary romances to write a sci-fi one. Now I like sci-fi and I was very pleased with the story. Only no one else was. [sigh] I know I won’t be trying that experiment again! And even though I know that shifter stories are all the rage and would be a sure best seller I just can’t bring myself to write one because I’m just not passionate about it and I couldn’t do it justice. So I’ll stick with my niche of “men in uniform”.

    As for reviews – I avoid them like the plague. I never even go anywhere near Goodreads. [shudder] I’ve gotten 4 & 5 stars on Amazon and that pleases me, but who knows what reviews have been left elsewhere for me. Some people probably hate my books and that’s their prerogative. But I’m not going to let their opinion influence me on what I want to write. Do I crave hordes of fans? Heck yeah! 🙂 But I doubt that’ll ever happen, so I’m content with the fans I do have, who do love my writing.

    So be proud of the kind of writer that you are! Embrace the good reviews and put the bad ones in your rearview mirror. We’ll never please everyone. But you can please YOURSELF and that’s what matters.

    • Thank you! I will try to be proud of myself and keep writing the way I want. Avoiding reviews might be something I just have to force myself to do from now on. Amazon is fine, but goodreads…ugh. Just a bad scene altogether over there.

      I had a similar situation to your sci-fi story with my last book. Many people DID like it, but it wasn’t as well received as I’d have liked. It is hard, I think, to sit on the border of two genres. Like sci-fi and Romance. Mine was paranormal/fantasy and Romance, and I loved it but I think it was not true enough to either genre to really please hardcore fans of those stories. Not enough sizzle in the romance department, and not enough peril in the paranormal. I knew going in the reaction I’d get, I had plenty of feedback before publishing, I just don’t think I could have written it any other way. It was the story it had to be.

      Many of my stories end up being “love it or hate it” as far as reviews go. Not much I can do to change that, even if I wanted to.

      Keep trying with the length! You’ll get there. I was the same way. And I like your niche! Men in uniform are always nice to have around 🙂

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