It is fair to say that the last month has not been the best of my life. The Queen had her annus horribilus – well, mine is only a month and I’m not sure what the Latin equivalent would be but I’m claiming it.
Permit me an explanation, though at risk of repeating myself. Firstly my mother-in-law died – totally unexpectedly – and as we still await the funeral it lingers over us all. Of course, this has consequences, like the cancellation of a weekend with friends that we’d all been looking forward to. The children are both missing social events with their friends in order to come to the memorial service, which I find difficult to fully explain. What should be my parental response: to compensate by repeating the events another week, or to let them learn that you can’t do everything in life and sometimes the worst things are more important than the fun things? Gosh, it’s hard being a parent!
Grannie’s death came just days after I’d dropped my phone down the toilet. Communications were difficult and feeling-utterly-stupid levels were high. Some bits were backed up (thankfully, the contact list!), but I lost a number of photos and notes.
Then, in advance of my talk at Ilkley Literature Festival, my daughter’s school trip got delayed, such that it was a mad panic to get there. To say the least I was not best pleased.
Then I went away for three days to write Book 2. This sacrificed time over half-term that I could (should?) have spent with the children, but allowed me to be really focused on writing. I also missed a guest speaker at my local writing group, missed watching The Great British Bake Off Final with the family (it is one of few shows that unites us all!) and missed a night out with my husband and mutual friends. Nevertheless, all was going well, until the final evening when I opened the iPad to find a message: This iPad is disabled. For no discernible reason whatsoever. I hadn’t done anything unusual nor had I entered the wrong code (repeatedly: which is the reason this message appears). Anyway, the only choice was to restore factory settings…and lose all my work.
(And yes, I did weep.)
(And yes, on top of the phone debacle, this was not a good thing.)
So, to read a review today that slated my book was almost more than I could take. I’m fully aware he doesn’t know that he caught me in my monthus horribilus (I told you I didn’t do Latin), and I’m not criticising him – everyone is entitled to their opinion, and it is validly held – but it has just hit at a low point.
Being alone in the house at the time, I did what seemed most sense: make a mug of tea. Then I looked at what other, more experienced writers have said about bad reviews. I’ve read many a tweet – usually from famous, established, respected authors – who have belittled someone’s negative comments. I thought of tweeting about it, but remembered that just because his view doesn’t coincide with mine, nor with what others have said (he is wrong about them being fakes, by the way), it is of no benefit to argue with him. Besides, I don’t like arguments. So, in particular, I’d like to thank Catherine Ryan Howard for her post 6 Ways to Survive Bad Reviews which cheered me up (or at least levelled my thinking).
That, and some cake. Covered in thick white chocolate icing. (Thank you, daughter, for having a perfectly timed birthday!)
Next month: just all together better. Please.