I tried, I really did. I bought H. P. Lovecraft’s Great Tales of Horror, which clocks in at 600 pages. I read some, skimmed some, and scratched my head. I felt like a monkey with a telephone, like I was incapable of “getting” H. P. Lovecraft, and it was something I struggled with because I’m a horror guy. Aren’t all horror people supposed to like the classics? Was something wrong with me? Would I lose some horror cred?
It took some time but I finally came to terms with my inability to like H. P. Lovecraft. It isn’t for me. I’m also going to admit that I don’t care for Bram Stoker’s Dracula either. The writing style doesn’t do it for me. Will some horror folks look down at me because I don’t like Lovecraft? Probably. You know what? They’re allowed to do what they want to do. I won’t lose any sleep over it.
Don’t get me wrong, I like some classic horror. Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend immediately comes to mind. I like some of Poe’s stuff too, but not all of it.
It all boils down to subjectivity. Yes, that subjectivity querying writers often hear about. Every person who reads your manuscript won’t love it. Some may even…not like it. Everything will be alright. I promise. Take a deep breath. Each reader is allowed to have an opinion, even if the author may not agree with it.
Learning to let go is an important lesson. Once a writer finishes a manuscript to the best of their ability, they must let it go. Once that book is set loose upon the reading public it will be scrutinized, applauded, and/or panned. It’s all part of being a published author. If your goal is to be published, then you must be willing to accept everything that goes along with it. There will be good reviews and there will be bad reviews.
The best thing you can do is put the reviews out of your mind. Get busy writing your next book. When you’re finished, you can look forward to even more reviews! One of my all-time favorite reviews for an anthology one of my short stories appears in says the reader read two stories and quit because all of the stories reminded them of Twilight. The best part was they didn’t get to my story, yet judged the entire collection based on two stories. Yes, if any of your stories appear in an anthology they will be judged, for better or worse, along with all the other stories. It’s something we must deal with.
Did I get upset because that reader judged my story (even though they never read it) based on the first two of the anthology? No. I let it go. They’re allowed to think, and say, what they like. As an author, all I can do is keep writing quality stories and have faith that readers will find them. And that’s what I would recommend any writer/author do too: Just keep writing. The readers who enjoy your stories will keep coming back. They may even tell their friends. Before you know it, you’ll have a fan base. How awesome does that sound?
Until next time, all hail Cthulhu, or something like that! 😉