…is when a reader takes the time to leave a direct message, letting you know what a disappointment your book was. The one star review left on the book page was not, apparently, enough. That this reader felt it necessary, even helpful, perhaps, to let me know in a message just went above and beyond the call of duty.
Do you detect sarcasm? Good.
I’m not sad or upset. Those who didn’t like Bar Harbor disliked it for the same reasons, and their tastes are their tastes. I have no issue with that. Ever. My healthy ego is still healthy, gentle friends, and because I have the utmost confidence in my skills as a writer and storyteller, I don’t wither because of a bad review, or even a personal message. That’s not what this is about, so please don’t feel the need to reassure me. Honest.
What fascinates me is the mind that felt it necessary to make sure I knew my work was a disappointment. Who is this? Is this person unkind, or simply tactless? What are they hoping to achieve by contacting me? A defense of my work? An argument wherein whatever drove them to that extra step could be further stated? Or maybe, this reader wanted an actual conversation to happen, one in which they could express their disappointment and have reasons why my choices were made. (I’ve done a lot of book clubs. I get lots of those sorts of questions.)
See? Fascinating. At least, it is to me. I spend my days creating people with backstories and motives and internal workings, putting them in environments that enrich or thwart their human experiences. My memory may be shit, but story brain is like dessert belly–it magically provides the necessary room for more. Everything, everyone, every experience becomes fodder, kept in reserve for some later date, to be cannibalized appropriately and, I hope, effectively.
I find the worth in every and all criticism, even this vague disappointment. It made me consider a thought process and character outside my ken. It created something I might not otherwise have considered. It’ll be stored away and used, when needed, because not everyone is a hero/ine, and most things are never what they seem.
What I’d love, honestly, would be a conversation with this person, not to see why they didn’t like my story, but to know why a one star review of regretful purchase/reading wasn’t enough; that a personal message was also so necessary to them. I can guess, conjecture, but I can’t know exactly, and I suppose that’s just tough luck. I’ll have to use my imagination. Poor me. (There’s that sarcasm again…)