Handling Criticism

When I published my first book, everything was quite new to me, and I had an expectation (possibly an unfair one) that my friends and family members should support me 100% and compliment me on my book no matter what they thought of it. Luckily, that did happen with my first book. Everyone around me was very supportive.

Unfortunately, when my second book came out, it was a different story. I received an unexpected criticism from someone dear to me that left me shocked, hurt, and unsure how to react. I’ll be honest, it took me a couple years to come to a place where I was willing to put myself out there again. During that time, I had to rethink my expectations of those closest to me and find a way to remain confident in myself and my craft regardless of others’ opinions.

In retrospect, I’m glad I experienced that criticism so early in my publishing career because it taught me a valuable lesson about how I should measure the true merit of my work. A few times, I’ve had to ask myself the question: what is the truth here? Is it the joy and enthusiasm I felt when I held a printed copy of the book in my hand for the very first time? Or is it the self-doubt I felt when someone criticized it later on? Which one of those two moments will I use to determine the value of my book? 

A wise woman named Lisa Nichols once said, “Oftentimes, you give others the opportunity to create your happiness, and many times they fail to create it the way you want it. Why? Because only one person can be in charge of your joy … and that’s you. So even your parent, your child, your spouse—they do not have the control to create your happiness. They simply have the opportunity to share in your happiness. Your joy lies within you.” A beautiful sentiment, don’t you think? I believe the same can be said for self-confidence and faith. 

I went into my third book with a new set of expectations that took the pressure off both me and those around me. It’s always nice when people acknowledge a new book with a hearty “congratulations,” but I’ve decided that’s where their obligation ends. I no longer base a book’s worth on whether or not others read it, agree with it, enjoy it, or discuss it with me after the fact. The truth I try my best to hold onto is the joy I felt when I held that first printed copy in my hand. I hope you will do the same for you. I hope you will find a way to hold onto your enthusiasm even if you come up against any criticism along the way … whether it’s from friends, family members, reviewers, or anyone else.

Keep writing! Keep the faith!

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