Guided by voices

Happy Friday!  I’m a bit sleepy this morning after a late night out with Sarah seeing Burlesque.  It was cheesy perfection!  There are lots of evil glares and sequins and cheeky dance moves.  Christina and Cher were fabulous-both sounded and looked great.  Cher’s face was a little immovable, but she made up for that with mesmerizing glitter eyeshadow that I deeply covet and would have nowhere to wear. I suggested that maybe Sarah and I could Burlesque our faces up for our friend’s Christmas party, but we weren’t sure how well it would go with our sensible corduroys and turtleneck sweaters.  Alas, it might be the kind of thing that only works with a black lace halter dress.

Yesterday on Susan Bischoff’s blog she talked about why her characters have potty mouths.  It was an interesting discussion and I was thinking about talking about the reviews Glimmer has been getting because of the increased cursing and sexual situations from Glimpse, but then Susan said this in the comments: “Plus, I think I’m going to have to give up reading them. (reviews) The criticisms are voices in my head when I’m writing, and the praises are voices in my head when I’m not writing, telling me to hurry up and finish and make sure it measures up. :stresses:”

So, sequels.

Writing the first book in a series is hard, you’re not sure of yourself, you wonder if anyone is going to want to read this thing that you have spent months pouring your heart and soul and brain into.  But you put it out there and hope for the best.  The first book  becomes your proving ground.  “Can I do this thing that I believe I can do?”  And then you get fans (the coolest and weirdest thing) and good reviews (and a few bad reviews) and you think, “I did this thing that I believed I could do.”

Writing the second book is both easier and harder.  You know what works for you and what doesn’t, but now you have expectations to meet that you didn’t have the first time around.  There are actual other people to write the book for besides yourself. You read your reviews and the beta reader comments and you have to decide how to write what you want to write while satisfying as many expectations as you can.  And that, my friends, is effing nerve-wracking. 

This is the spot I’m in with Rebellion right now.  The nerve-wracking “will it meet expectations” spot.  All this feeling is good for is fueling procrastination.  I know I need to write myself out of it.  I had a great writing day the other day and I know another will come, but for some reason I can’t stop looking at the few so-so reviews Glimmer has gotten (which are far less than the number of good reviews its received. Thus proving that I like to make myself crazy.) and thinking “sophomore slump.”  This especially bums me out because I like Glimmer better.  I think my writing improved, the pace improved, I had more fun.

Back to Susan’s quote.  It made me realize something that I hadn’t before.  When people review a book, they’re not talking to me.  It may seem like they are, like they are telling me what to do or asking for what they’d liked to have seen more of, but who they are really talking to is other readers.  When someone reviews a book, all they are really saying is “read this, I liked it” or “don’t read this, I didn’t like it.”  Reviews are great for building your platform and garnering new readers, but they aren’t a blueprint for what you should be writing.  I’m going to try to keep this in mind and get on with the writing.  Thanks for listening to me give myself a pep talk.:)

Did I mention I was tired?

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6 thoughts on “Guided by voices

  1. “effing nerve-wracking,” she says.
    :falls on floor, twitching and foaming at mouth:

    Yes, that is just it. They’re not talking to us. (Except when they’re scolding me for cussing, then they totally are.) I just think there’s a huge disconnect between what ratings mean to a reader and to a writer.

  2. Zoe tried to make me stop reading reviews. I’m trying to be a good little author and obey. But I’m intrigued, fascinated, and appalled at how the same books can get both 1 star and 5 star reviews. And everything in between. And then your mood goes up and down accordingly. Oh…THAT’S why Zoe told me to stop.

  3. @Susan-Don’t worry, if the teen pregnancy rate rises, I’m sure that will be all my fault. At least cussing can’t give you the clap. 🙂

    @Lauralynn- Zoe has also told me to stop reading them and I really think it is a good idea…but you’re right, it’s like not being able to look away from a car accident.
    Maybe her indie handbook should also come with a prescription for Prozac? Now there’s a tie-in I bet she hasn’t considered. 😉

  4. Lots of writers don’t read reviews at all. It’s probably an excellent idea if reviews play on your mind.

    They don’t play on mine, obviously, or I may have thrown myself into the Liffey by now. Or at least thrown my laptop. 😉

    There will always be expectations and you can’t make everyone happy all of the time so you have to be true to your own story. And I *am* talking to you here. LOL. Tbh, I really think it’s great that people are so invested and interested in the story that they have strong feelings about it. Have a look at your favourite books and writers and read their reviews – it might give you some perspective.

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