I have been blessed with fantastic writer friends. Yes, I am one of the lucky ones that can say that.
In the past several months, in an effort to make more time for reading, I’ve been challenging myself to a book a month—a challenge that I’ve been able to keep. Yay!
So far my reading list has been full of excellent novels and I’ve loved every one of them. In loving them, however, I’ve often wondered what would I do if I didn’t love a novel?
More importantly, what would I do if I didn’t love a friends novel?
Would I lie to them and to the readers of the world by leaving a stellar review? Or would I be honest with my feelings, telling them and the readers by leaving the number of stars I really think the book is worth?
As authors we all know how it feels to hear that someone didn’t care for our work. Strangers can break our hearts in a second, leaving us to wonder why we even bother to write in the first place.
But what if that “stranger” was a friend? Would it ruin the friendship or would it hurt for awhile, but in the end help the author?
We all know that constructive bad reviews can actually help. If we have bad habits in our writing, having someone call them out could be the lightbulb to bring us out of our own funk, helping us not to make the same mistake twice. Of course, at the time, through the bitter sting of the harsh words we don’t think about that. We’re too focused on the pain of a bad review. But when the dust settles, it could be what propels our next novel to the next level.
But from a friend? Would we be in too much pain to look past the hurt?
More importantly, can I even be honest with someone I know so well? Can I really send them a message, writing the words that I know will, for however long, hurt them?
And it’s with that thought in mind, there is another side to this honesty coin.
I have to admit that there have been times that because of a strangers bad review, the seeds of doubt have been planted in my mind. So much so, that whenever I receive a good review from a friend, or they tell me they’ve loved my stories, a small part of me can’t help but wonder if they are lying to me because they know me and they just don’t know how to utter the truth.
Do they really love them or do they just not want to hurt my feelings and cause a rift?
In my seven years of writing and four published novels, I find that this is perhaps my biggest problem—knowing my readers. While strangers can leave harsh reviews that make my want to crawl in a corner and cry, knowing the person who is reading my novels is, by far, more cringe worthy to my body.
I hope that it’s something I will get over one day. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. But I’d really like to.