The Review Cycle for a Writer?
1. Notification of review: butterflies in the stomach
2. A good review: butterflies flit, you fly
3. A bad review:
(a) Possibly has you in a flap. Not progressing.
(b) Sees you regressing to the pupa stage. It’s a better option. Why? Read on.
There’s Value in a Truly Rubbish Review. Who Knew?
I’m not talking about a low-rating, constructive review. Or even a not-my-cup-of-tea review. A little unsettling, granted, but not everyone is going to like our work.
I’m talking about the odd troll-like review (in amongst a whole lot of shiny five and four-star ones). The gutless slagging that blindsides and can leave us enraged and tempted to hit back.
Writing, especially from the depths, entails metamorphosis. It unmasks the soul and flushes out noxious stuff in the writer.
That kind of writing can do the same thing in the reader.
Trolls—fraidy cats under the bully persona—have a lot of disowned schmootz in their depths. Their vitriol suggests that what we’ve written has unwittingly poked the bear residing in the uncharted wilderness of their psyche.
The troll, who more often than not operates under a pseudonym and with an avatar as their profile pic, would much rather dump those ugly feelings than deal with them. The troll would rather remain a caterpillar.
Better to Deal With Than Dole Out
When my wings are clipped and I’m thrown back into the pupa stage, I attend to the raw and painful feelings that the bitter criticism has exposed. It means taking the focus off the troll because who they are is none of my business. The thoughts and feelings they’ve stirred up within me are my business.
Giving the emotions full expression in a safe space (like a journal) releases their hold and allows me to once again become the butterfly.
It’s important to remember, though, that the butterfly has a short lifespan. Not a bad thing. Flight-crawl-flight is a natural part of the life-death-life cycle. And being willing to do the ‘death crawl’ builds stamina, makes moving through life’s challenges a bit breezier, and makes us better writers.
Rocking Their Boat
Right. That takes care of the benefits for those of us on the receiving end of an inflammatory review. Now, to the inflamed, worm-like reviewer.
Unless they examine why our words had them so bent out of shape that they launched an offensive, they’ll either stay stuck in the larva stage or, at best, metamorphose into a moth.
Also important to remember: once you’ve done your deep work, said moths can’t eat into the fabric of your existence.
*Troll: n. (in folklore) an ugly creature depicted as either a giant or a dwarf
*See earlier blog post on the hacker brand of troll: https://paulahouseman.com/big-brother-big-deal/
*See earlier blog post on dealing with your own inner troll: https://paulahouseman.com/how-i-deal-with-the-inner-critic/
*See earlier blog post on the value of soul work: https://paulahouseman.com/going-down/