My mother used to tell me that when I was a child, all she had to do was look at me wrong and I’d start crying. “Constructive criticism” would often end with me defensive and in tears. As a teenager there was a lot of door slamming, though my parents seem to have forgotten this part of my adolescence. I still remember sobbing into a wet pillow and waiting for someone to come apologize (for what exactly, I don’t know). Once, in a fit of anger, I slammed our back door, accidentally shattering the glass. The phone happened to ring at that exact moment, and my mother spent the next forty minutes on the phone with a friend. I spent those forty minutes sobbing theatrically on the couch, thinking if I was genuinely upset enough, maybe she wouldn’t get mad at me.
Luckily, getting rejected by agents for almost ten years does wonders for developing a thicker skin. As I bumble through my first month as a published author, I’m getting practice letting things roll off my back, like water on a duck. While I’ve heard from many readers who have enjoyed The Bloom Girls, it’s the little thorns here and there that have a way of pricking the skin and drawing blood. A few recent cringe-worthy, sobbing into the pillow moments where I instead shrugged.
And I know this is only the beginning. There will be readings where only 1 or 2 people show up. There will be bad reviews, possibly in actual publications. People might hate my next book, maybe I’ll never sell another one, maybe I’ll post something on this blog that accidentally causes people to take to Twitter in protest (though I’m so Twitter-challenged that I probably wouldn’t even notice). Bottom line, you can’t please everyone all the time. And that’s okay.
I recently stumbled upon the quote “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” (Neale Donald Walsch). Well, I’ve been out of my comfort zone for the past six months, and I haven’t dropped dead. Want to know where my comfort zone is? On the couch, reading or watching TV with my husband. And as relaxing and comfy as that is, probably not a lot of personal or professional growth is going to happen there. So I’ll do my best to make like a duck and let it all roll off me, empty readings, 1 star reviews, and all.