Saturday night, I lost my shit.
That’s simply a cute way to say I nearly had a full-fledged panic attack. For a solid half hour, I was a woman on the verge.
Couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t think. Almost unable to move. I was spiraling. It was kind of scary, but I’m a writer, so I also thought, “Huh. This is a panic attack. Mentally filing it for future writings.“
I think that kept me anchored to reality, honestly. I knew writing would pay off one day…
So, more important than the panic itself, the most important thing to talk about is what caused the attack in the first place.
Typically, I don’t talk about my mental health issues because it makes me uncomfortable. I’m kind of a private person if all of you haven’t noticed. However, this incident is related to my writing. I try to be transparent about my life and process as a writer. So…let’s talk.
I’ve said for years that my advice to writers–because I learned the hard way early on–that you should never read your reviews. Or what readers are saying about your work.
I know a lot of people interpret this the wrong way. Maybe I think writers don’t need critique. Or maybe I think that harsh criticism is not valid. Or maybe I don’t care what readers think.
None of this is true to some degree. I think writers absolutely need critique. But that’s what editors, alpha/beta-readers, family, and friends are for. Having the world screaming conflicting critique at you is not helpful, in my opinion. And harsh, yet constructive, criticism is where I flourish. My developmental editor tears me apart on every book. So, I’m not afraid of harsh. And, of course, I care what readers think. Some of my readers have been with me for YEARS. I love those people. I care if they enjoyed what they spent their hard-earned money on.
But let’s face it…sometimes reviewers forget they are talking about real people with real feelings. Sometimes reviews are made by trolls. Sometimes reviews make you wonder if the reviewer even opened the book or knows how to read. Often, reviews simply don’t help writers. Not just because they can be mean-spirited, trolling, or dismissive of the human behind the book, but because they can vary so wildly.
WHICH REVIEW(S) AM I SUPPOSED TO BELIEVE???
However, having devoted readers is a double-edged sword. With the bad…comes the good. And the good can be just as difficult to process.
A friend sent me screencaps of things readers were saying about THE BEES AND OTHER WILD THINGS because they loved A SURPLUS OF LIGHT.
It was all wonderful, amazing stuff and I’m so glad people are excited to read it when it drops Friday, October 21st.
I was enjoying seeing the excitement for the book. It warmed muh heart. But one comment stuck out to me.
I’m going to share that comment–and if the person who wrote this comment sees this–please do not think I am mad at you or calling you out. You are a wonderful, sweet person and this is about ME, not YOU. If you are a person who knows who made this comment, leave that person alone. They did nothing wrong.
The comment was: “I hope it doesn’t ruin A Surplus of Light for me.” (paraphrase for context)
Immediately, I felt my stomach sinking.
Oh, holy fuck shit. WILL it ruin A SURPLUS OF LIGHT???
A SURPLUS OF LIGHT is my most popular and beloved book so far. It holds a special place in my heart. And I know that many readers really cherish Ian’s and Mike’s story. For some unexplainable reason, thousands of people have bought and/or read the book, and it means something to those people. Well…the ones who liked it.
Am I going to fuck up their entire world by releasing a sequel? How could I do this to them???
I act above it all and that with every book I release, it is what it is. However, in some ways, about some things, I care a lot.
I don’t want to ruin anything for my readers when something means so much to them.
I feel a great responsibility to my readers because they have been so good to me. And, behind the dollars being sent to my banking account every time a book is sold, is a real person. With real feelings.
And I care about that. That caused me to panic. I felt as though I might actually let all of you down. That I would ruin something that has meant so much to many of you.
Ultimately, between my iron will to not let my mind control me (I’m a stubborn fuck) and SAM’s soothing hugs, I calmed down.
Because it is what it is.
THE BEES AND OTHER WILD THINGS is coming out Friday. It’s a sequel to A SURPLUS OF LIGHT. But it’s its own thing. It doesn’t change anything from the first book–probably because it’s about Kevin and Carson. Even if readers despise it, they can still enjoy A SURPLUS OF LIGHT. I have to believe that readers, at the worst, will dislike it and forget it exists. Best case scenario, people enjoy it.
You know, we often forget that Being A Writer doesn’t change that we are human. No matter how many books a writer releases, how many books they sell, or how many readers they have, they’re still human. I had a human moment.
Because I care about my readers.
I hope that if you read THE BEES AND OTHER WILD THINGS that you enjoy its lessons, its philosophy, its sensuality, the characters, and, at the very least, you have a few hours distracted from reality.
I’ll try not to panic.
Tremendous Love & Thanks,