New horizons

I have recently received a couple of customer reviews and an editorial review. First of many I hope/wish! As this is my first book, one which summoned me to the writers altar, each new milestone brings unexpected emotions, thoughts, perspectives and self-reflection.

It seems that accepting praise is not something natural or easy for me. Don’t get me wrong, I like it, want it. But as I listen to my internal dialogue, I realise how much I resist it. I minimise, deflect, reframe, in anyway which makes the experience acceptable to some silent internal partner, who keeps a close vigil. A censor of my thoughts and ultimately actions, I guess.

That, of course, is valuable and necessary, to a point. I’m sure I learned these unconscious responses through many years of socialisation and perhaps some epigenetic traits. How to be modest, self effacing, to share, and wait your turn. I never really developed the swordsmanship, the cut and thrust, of modern capitalism, or perhaps I shied away.

Anyway, I received an editorial review from a literary magazine, which is great, ‘a noteworthy book’, it said. But the little voice soon crept in,

“they would say that, you did pay for it! It’s their job to say good things”

“But surely, they are putting their name to something, they must have liked it enough to say such positive things”.

“C’mon, you’ve seen the backs of books ‘this is the greatest book ever written’, they will say anything for a few quid”

“Yes but, no but, they had to take the time to read it, and if it was crap they would not go near it. It must have some merit. I don’t believe you”.

I received my first review from someone who bought the book without any cajoling, read it over a weekend, and wrote a review.

“A wonderful read……5 stars…hopes for more”

Yes but, no but, he said he likes philology!. It means the book is probably over written, too elaborate, should’ve toned down the language.

“Sod off! I stand by it. It is what it is. If he likes it then I’m pleased, but hey, I wrote it for me”

“Liar”

I received further feedback from a reading addict,

“Best thing I’ve read in years”

“Thanks” thinking, ‘well it’s a fluke, or, he’s a one off, a quirk of massive global reach’

It’s interesting listening to my resistance. Perhaps it a British self-effacing manner, a well-worn cultural muzzle. Whatever it is I will have to consciously change this habit of putting myself down, or denying myself any merit. It’s subtle, but it’s real; limiting expectation and lowering self belief. But as people continue to give great feedback, gradually, I am learning to value their opinions as they are, and not convert them into something more digestible for that self-loathing part which cannot handle praise.

I don’t want to overstate these emotional responses. I do not hate myself, and have a strong sense of self-worth. But approaching my world from this new perspective affords an opportunity for new insights and observations. I see an automated response which has little place here, and steals some of the joy of my writing and sharing journey.

Repeat after me. “I am worthy”

“Hey, watch that head of yours! Your not that worthy!

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