Saturday, January 21, 2012

not to live with a reptilian heart

We all know the differences between mammals and reptiles. One of the main ones is that we are warm-blooded while snakes and lizards are cold-blooded. While their blood temperature fluctuates with the weather, ours stays at a pretty stable 36 or 37 degrees celsius. The benefit for us is that we don't have to tuck ourselves away during icy snaps because we're too sluggish to move and don't want to freeze. Hooray for that.

Now, I wish my moods would function in a similar way to my blood. It occurred to me what the problem is. I tend to have what you might call a 'cold-blooded heart.' It makes my spirits soar or plummet according to what's going on around me.

In November when I flew up to Brisbane for the Writer's Fair and then arrived home to celebrate my daughter's thirteenth birthday, the mercury in my thermometer would have been shooting over the top. But today, somebody wrote a pretty disparaging 2-star review of one of my book-babies, Best Forgotten on Amazon. I could almost feel my spirit draining out of me as I read it.

Yeah, I know the things we're supposed to tell ourselves. If you want to be a writer, you have to be prepared to deal with a bit of bad press. Other people have different taste to you. Remember everyone who enjoyed it. I still felt like curling up in a corner somewhere for a good cry. I didn't really learn much from this reviewer because I thought her criticism was the picky sort rather than constructive. I even disagreed with a lot of what she said. Of course I'll get over this and keep on going with my new book, but I can't help stinging at the moment. Yes, I know it's a normal reaction. That mercury will soon begin to swell again.

Once again, I remember that Jesus wasn't moved from his state of peace by people's affirmation or rejection. When he was treated with hostility by the people who knew him from his boyhood in Capernaum, he simply moved on. I want to react with the same refreshing equilibrium and simply take things as they came.

Of course, Jesus deeply understood the principles of nature, which we were designed to live in. There are always ebbs and flows, summer and winter, seed time and harvest. On New Year's Eve, we took Emma and Blake, our two youngest children, to Port Elliot's Horseshoe Bay for a swim in the sea. We were buffetted around by its famous surf, enjoying body surfing in the waves and getting sand burn from being dumped into the shallows. I'm certain daily life has the same peaks and troughs of the ocean waves.

One reviewer wrote that, in her opinion, Best Forgotten was the most refreshing, unpredictable and engaging story she's read for a long time. I was high on a wave that day. This recent person thinks it's like a skid mark on the underpants of life (She didn't really use those words. I just borrowed them from Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird.) So right now I'm being scraped through the weed at the bottom of the sea, but I'll be swept up again. It's a law of nature.

I'm reminding myself that I really do have a human heart and spirit to match. I can choose to be calm and peaceful.


  1. Oh Paula, That sucks! But in saying that I love this post. I love that we are human and hurt as well as feel joy. Oh yeah, and of course men cry, what planet does this woman live on?! xx

  2. I read the review and seems the person is just as annoyed it was in kindle form (which often isn't the best as I find its not set out nearly as good as a book). Also there other reviews seem to follow a similar pattern.
    I agree with Nicole I didn't think Courtney cried to much and I dont think its a too feminine name (even if my niece is Courtney) I first associated it with the cricketer Courtney Walsh. I think there review is helpful to anyone wondering if they should buy the book or not.

  3. Yes, I knew some tough, rugged Courtneys and gave him that name for a similar reason.
    It takes all kinds...

  4. PS, Jenny, I hope that's true. I'm not sure I'd buy it based on that review if I was browsing. Having said that, there are other good ones, which I appreciate.

  5. If it was me seeing this persons reviews they kept saying comments about the version and saying they would have liked to have a print version of the book. I would look at this persons review and then check the history after doing that they seem to be negative even when giving 4 stars. also being they got it free would make me wonder to. I would look at the other reviews too.

  6. My husband has a favourite saying 'you will always have to take the bad with the good'. I think this is especially true for us artists. I really think this reviewer has had her experience hindered by a technicality. (the form in which she was reading the book). I can understand this as I have little likes and dislikes that contribute towards my enjoyment or frustration with a story. It's called 'taste' though. Best Forgotten is a good book, Paula - I know that you know that in spite of someone else's 'taste'.

  7. Thanks all :)
    My first instinct was to click LIKE so I must spend too much time on Face Book.

  8. I also took a look at the review, Paula. I would not put much stock in a reviewer that can't spell the main character's name correctly and didn't know *why* the girlfriend seemed off. Probably his most helpful sentence was "If you're into Christian romance, you might like this."

    Honestly, I read so many reviews where the critic is soured about something unrelated to the product. As a consumer, I'm really not interested in how small the print is on Kindle, I would want to know a little about the book.

    This is one of the things that made me take so long publishing. I don't want someone reading my work who has preconceived notions about my topic. I am hoping my book reaches people who need it, and that it will make them happy.

    It's not that hard to offer constructive criticism. I feel sad for people who are so miserable they spew negativity without a thought for the artist who poured their heart into a work.

    Keep cranking out those stories, Paula. Please don't let this one negative reviewer get you down. (And remind me of this when I get a bad review!)

    Peace and Laughter!

  9. Hi Cristina,
    Yes, I found myself nodding with agreement to every single point you've made. One thing we know for certain, there are always people of that description out there. Hopefully the discerning readers of reviews will figure that out.

  10. Oh, dear Paula, I love this honesty and willingness to show your vulnerable side. I wish telling someone to keep their 'chin up' worked. I would write it here 10 times! But you've already shown how your chin IS up, by reminding yourself, and us, that Jesus kept his focus on the task. I know you will too, even when those waves take us down. xxx

  11. Thanks, Dorothy, I'm in total agreement.


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