For Christmas my wife gave me a gift certificate to attend the Storymakers Writing Conference in Provo. I had been looking forward to it for quite a while and my plans were made...but then they changed. A couple of months ago the church scheduled the date for the Kansas City Temple Dedication and guess what, it was on the same weekend. Hmmmm. What to do?
I've been looking forward to the Temple dedication far longer than the writing conference but I still found myself a bit disappointed that I couldn't do both. My children started practicing in February to be a part of the cultural celebration on the Saturday prior to the dedication and I knew I couldn't miss that either so I decided to cancel my plans for the conference. The celebration was fantastic and the kids had a great time, but still I felt a twinge of disappointment that I couldn't go to the conference.
Sunday, as my family and I drove to the Kansas City temple for the dedication, the skies opened up and POUNDED us with rain. We wondered how wet we would get and how uncomfortable we might be in the temple sitting in wet clothing. I found myself feeling a twinge of disappointment that the weather wasn't clear and sunny. As it turns out, the rain stopped at the most opportune times and we didn't get a drop on us, but as soon as we started driving home, the pounding rain started again.
It was at this moment that I realized what a shame it is to let events or circumstances in our lives distract us from the things that are most important. Would I have liked to go to the conference, sure. But going to the cultural celebration and dedication was more important for me. Would I have preferred sunshine instead of blinding rain. Yeah, of course, but I shouldn't allow a small thing like rain dampen my enthusiasm for the amazing experience I had.
This also made me think of the writing, publishing and reviewing process we go thru as writers. We struggle and work to write our manuscript. We shop it around and finally get an acceptance from a publisher and we eagerly await the release of our book. We anticipate the release with such high hopes but sometimes we allow a rain cloud or two dampen our enthusiasm and pull us out of the joy and excitement we should be basking in.
The specific rain clouds I'm thinking of are bad reviews. The release of a book is a thrilling experience after months or even years of effort and struggle, so why should we let one dingdong ruin that euphoria for us by merely saying or writing something critical? Would we like every reader to praise our book as the most intelligent, well written, humorous, touching work they've ever read. Yeah, sure. But it's not realistic. So a reader didn't like it. Big whoopdy doo! They're just stupid heads. (wait- I digress) We WILL get bad reviews but a review on goodreads, Amazon, blogs etc should not make or break our enthusiasm. In some cases we may be able to learn from the review, in some cases we simply need to ignore them because we cannot get caught up in the hype, either positive or negative, about our work. Just say, "darn!" and then move on.
So that was a rambling way of saying, focus on the positive, ignore the negative and focus on what really brings you happiness and fulfillment. Don't let the rain clouds of bad reviews dampen your enthusiasm for writing.