Shedding skin

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.

Thayers_or_variable_king_snake_shedding_its_skin

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.

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12 thoughts on “Shedding skin

  1. You didn’t write the book for people who don’t enjoy it. You wrote it for the people who will enjoy it. Always remember that, and don’t worry about the bad reviews.
    I hate Robinson Crusoe myself, and no one’s going to argue that that isn’t a classic! It’s all just personal preference.

    • Thanks – that’s a really good way to think about it! In fact, and I should have remembered this earlier, originally I wrote the thing just for myself, not imagining that I would ever let it off its leash to take its chances out there.
      I confess I’ve never read Robinson Crusoe myself, but there are a few ‘great’ prize-winning books which I have read which made me really wonder what all the fuss was about! 🙂

  2. You’ve spent years crafting your book and I think it’s only natural to be protective of your hard work. I don’t understand negative reviews which start out, “I hate this genre, but thought I’d read this book and hated it” there seems to be a number of those about.

    Happy writing for your next projects. 🙂

    • Thanks – the new projects are very absorbing, and of course I have that eternal dilemma of being a bit frustrated that I can’t get enough time on them, but hey ho. I’ll get there in the end.
      Why on earth do people read material for genres they dislike? Is it like trying anchovies again to see if they’ve acquired a taste for them yet, do you think?

      • hahaha it is exactly like that. I think some people are just mean and like to spread it around. Hopefully more people leave constructive reviews in the future.

  3. That’s a great analogy and I’ve also been learning that authors really need very thick skin! I’m always amazed when I see a bad review for a book that I absolutely loved. I suppose it’s true that we can’t make everyone happy. But do know that I loved your book and that your words have been the cause of many smiles from halfway around the world.

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