Word Power

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

How many years have we heard that statement, even said it, all the while knowing it for the complete falsehood it is?
Words have incredible power. They can evoke emotion to such extent that wars explode. The can slice and dice a person in minutes. They can destroy or motivate.
Words last.
I tell my students all the time to remember: you can say I’m sorry, but it doesn’t erase whatever was said. Those words are out there in the air doing their best to interfere.
The same way a simple “good job” or “you’re cool” or even an “I like your hair” can lift someone up.

Speaking of words…
I’m working on a novel right now that I hope will have an impact on readers. It’s emotional and it touches on issues we sometimes like to forget and it’s personal in a way I hadn’t really planned on. It’s spiritual and gritty. It deals with the themes of redemption, shame, and forgiveness.
I hope those words I write will last. But I know, if I’m lucky and the manuscript hits the right desk and sparkles with energy and proves to be an innovative new plot or my voice hits that chord inside an editor that sings YES! when she reads a book she loves-and it gets published-someone will read it and hate it.
And that someone could post on the Internet how much they hate the book and all the reasons why. And I’m sure I’ll hate the review and I’ll hurt inside and call my CPs and rant and rave about how they {reviewers} “just don’t get me!”
But hopefully I’ll remember the review, just like the rejections that have come before, isn’t really personal at all. It’s just someone’s opinion of my book, not her opinion of me.
As a reader I love reviews. I used to write them for my local newspaper. But for the same reason people are critical of reviews right now, I quit.
I refused to review bad books. I wouldn’t lie and write good reviews about bad books, but I only sent in reviews of books I loved. Several people thanked me for the recommendations and some even discovered they actually liked romance. Deborah Smith’s Stone Flower Garden especially found a place in the heart of several “I don’t read romance” converts.
But I couldn’t bring myself to put in print how a plot was fatally flawed or characters were one dimensional or narrative and dialogue seemed padded to extend the book’s length. In the back of my mind I always had some reviewer demon screaming: it’s just your opinion. Your mother (sister, grandma, aunt, dad, the old lady next door) will love this book. That variety is what makes the romance world go ’round.
I applaud sites like AAR where romances are reviewed with honesty. I love Mrs. Giggles, although I can see that changing if I’m ever published. 🙂
One of my CP’s, Brava author Karen Kelley, reads her reviews and tries to learn from the negative ones. She says sometimes a reviewer will point out a problem she hadn’t even thought of and she sets out to fix that problem in her next work. That’ll be my goal one day, I hope.

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