Bad day? Here’s something possibly worse…a bad review!
I woke up this morning as usual. Nothing surprising in the air except an unexpected downpour. Well, I suppose the weather man expected it. I hadn’t been paying enough attention to the skies to know what was coming. Still, though unexpected, it wasn’t unpleasant. I mean, who doesn’t like the smell of fresh rain-watered countryside after a long dry spell? My dog thought it was cold and damp and didn’t want to go out, but I digress.
My husband and I enjoyed some 5 a.m. coffee together as I snuggled the aforementioned doggie under a quilt and warmed her up. By and by hubby rose and gathered his things. He wanted to be on the road before traffic jammed the two-lane artery that serves our valley, and who could blame him?
I trundled my small Chihuahua into her Kelly green sweatshirt, grabbed a flashlight and a raincoat, and carried her to hubby’s car. Go-to-work-with-daddy day for little Sophie, since I would also leave shortly and be away for the entire day.
They pulled away into the dark and rainy pre-dawn hour as I rushed back inside, thankful to be out of the wet. My living room looked warm and my empty coffee cup beckoned to me from the side table. Why not? I had at least thirty minutes before I needed to begin “get ready” preparations. I could afford a second cup of coffee. I had a long day ahead of me.
Three minutes later, fresh coffee waiting beside me, I snuggled for a few precious minutes into my deep purple Sherpa comforter. I reached for my coffee, enjoying the drumming of rain on the windows as I sat warm and snug.
How’d the book do overnight?
It was a random thought. My plan had been to catch up on friends’ social media posts, but my tablet could just as easily take me to my book’s page on Amazon. Sometimes rankings took a very pleasant spike overnight. What had been a #356 ranking in a category could sometimes jump to #53 for no reason that I could understand. Rankings are fluid, and a good one won’t stick around if you’re an unknown author like I am, so I’ll take my kicks where I can find them.
I opened my bookmarks and tapped on Amazon. Typed in When Mountains Don’t Move. Nice. Popped right up as an option before I’d gotten to the U in Mountains. It’s a good thing when your book is easily searchable. Means folks are clicking on it.
And then I saw it.
That was new. There had only been forty-four reviews the last time I’d visited the page. Someone had left a comment.
I scrolled down slowly, nervously. The percentages looked off to me, and I could feel It in my bones. I was about to read a bad review.
Scroll. There it was. One star. The minimum a person can leave if they want to comment. I read slowly, the offended words of an angry reader searing themselves into my brain.
My heart pounded. I’d never expected everyone to like my book. In truth, the positive reviews I’d received had knocked my socks off. I found them humbling and kind and inspiring. Here, though, someone had hated my work so much that they had used up some of their time to not only tear the story down, but to accuse my kind reviewers of orchestrating and falsifying their comments.
It hurt. No getting around it.
I had to go to work so I tried to shove the white-hot words out of my mind. I reminded myself that people see things differently. We are diverse. What appeals to one may not appeal to anyone else. If you are going to write a personal memoir and put it out there, part of the package must be your intentional development of a thick skin. Publishing isn’t for pansies.
But it hurt. No getting around it.
Fast forward to evening. Alone in my hotel room—with another job lined up for tomorrow—I gathered my courage and read the review again.
And something strange happened. I found myself understanding the reviewer’s point of view. I couldn’t digest the cutting comments, but I found that, if I put myself on his side of the fence, I could appreciate his “take” on the book.
My story is one of poor behavior—by two parties—but then of humility, forgiveness, redemption, and restoration—of both parties.
My story is heavily sprinkled with the miraculous and healing hand of God. Remove that, remove all that comes with that, and it’s easy to see why my reader saw nothing but a story of immorality and abuse. He saw no sense in what he read and he was potent in his written wrath.
First Corinthians 1:27 tells us that God uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and the weak things of the world to confound the strong.
I accept that I am often foolish and frequently weak, but the power of forgiveness knows no limits. For that reason, I believe that that there are people who will be touched by the story I have shared. There will also be people who, like my reviewer, will see only weakness and not the strength that comes from repentance and the grace of God.
And that’s okay. My story is not intended to strengthen those who are already safe, strong, and put together. It is a message of hope for the broken—for people who have made mistakes.
I’ve come full circle and I now appreciate my reviewer’s point of view, which I’m sure will at times be shared by others. People who think differently may leave positive comments. I will treasure those all the more.
My day started with a jolt, but ended well. My skin, like a baby rhino's, is toughening up. High time, many would say.