My novel, ‘The Artemis Effect’, is now out there in the big bad world, and ever so slowly, reviews have been trickling in. Some have been good, a few great, and one or two stinkers. I’m really grateful to all those people who have taken their time to read it, and to those who didn’t enjoy the experience, I’m sorry.
Thankfully, there have been far more drop into the good basket than the bad. I suppose that that’s about par for the course: when you look up reviews of any of the books you love (or hate), there will be other people with different opinions. Obviously people are entitled to have their own thoughts about a work. Sometimes it just isn’t their cup of tea (or whatever other warm beverage) : sometimes it seems as if they haven’t really understood it.
However, I have found that my attitude to these reviews has changed. When the book was newly born and still damp and fragile, I confess that I was gutted if I got a less than glowing review. Call me overly sensitive perhaps, but when you spend that long writing something, polishing and honing until you think it is as good as you can make it, then when someone comes along with their boots on and gives it a good kicking, it hurts.
Now, however, I won’t say that I’m overjoyed with a dubious review, but for some reason it is less painful. I think it’s because my focus has moved on to other projects, which are absorbing all my intellectual energy. I’m working on my own short story collection, and also on compiling a themed anthology. The anthology will hopefully be very diverse, with short stories, essays, poetry, interviews and artwork from women around the world. Both these projects feel intense and demanding of my time, glowing bright, where my novel feels more like cooling embers. It is fading more into the past, finished rather than growing.
The best way I can to describe it is rather like a snake shedding its skin. I can feel that the skin used to fit tightly, that I filled it to the best of my ability at that time, but now I am growing into another. Hopefully it will be more intricately patterned and intriguing than the last.