It’s been just over a month since the ebook version of Baring It All became available. In that time, I’ve been blessed to have received many positive reviews, messages, and phone calls. People have thanked me for sharing my truth and being brave enough to put this book out into the world. I’m not going to lie, when I first knew people were reading my words, the ones that had lived on my computer and in my journals, it was a bit of an “Oh shit! What have I done?” moment. Not because I regret anything I wrote, but because it felt so vulnerable to know others were reading it. I got over that in a couple of days and am excited to finally be shipping copies to my presale, early supporters. Without them, this book would not exist. It was their/your contributions that helped me pay for editors and publishers. I am all about community and this book is definitely a community effort. (Don’t forget to look for your name in the Acknowledgments!)
Since publishing, I’ve learned a few lessons about feedback and criticism. Whether you plan on writing or publishing a memoir, I feel these are important to share, as they will likely apply to other areas in life.
Here they are….
1 – People have expressed various feelings about my book. Some people love it, some don’t, and some simply just don’t get it or understand the message of the book. All of these are completely okay and I am learning a lot from each; about myself, my work, and other people. I am also learning whose feedback to take to heart and which to throw in the trash.
2 – I have received a couple of messages that are what I would call “hate mail”. I am amazed at how mean and hurtful people can be and how disgusting their choice of words can be. IMHO, feedback about my book should not be a personal attack on me, the writer. Initially, it was very hurtful to read these words, as they were so personal, rather than a review on Amazon from someone I didn’t know. Thankfully, I have rational people in my life, who are very grounded and enlightened, and who were able to help me better understand some things about this. I now can see that it seems these readers (if they even read the full book) created their own stories about what my words meant. These stories they created, and the words they decided to imagine were in my book, seem to have brought up some big feelings for them. They then projected their own shit back onto me in their messages. They even threw swords at me, claiming words that I didn’t even write in the book, were hurtful to them and shallow of me. It was as if they were inferring stories from the words I did write. I now know this type of feedback can be toxic, and it is most likely about the sender, not me or my story.
3 – This may be the most important lesson I’ve learned, or been reminded about. My story is my story. My truth is my truth. My words are my words. And nobody can take any of that away from me. Have you ever heard the saying, “There are 3 sides to every story; yours, mine, and the truth.” That is because our memories, our stories, our truths, and our beliefs, are based upon our own perceptions of our experiences. Those perceptions can be formed by many things, including what may have happened in our past, and things currently happening in our life. When we share our stories, we are sharing our truth. People can have reactions and responses, but they do not get to take away my truth.
So now what?
I am still a work in progress regarding criticism and feedback. I am still learning and understanding which feedback to receive, which is simply bullshit, and which is going to help me grow. As Brené Brown teaches, sometimes we need to choose courage over comfort. I believe that is what it took to write this memoir and to tell my story.
If you’re interested in diving deeper into this topic of feedback and criticism, I highly recommend checking out these 3 resources. They’ve been instrumental for me and hope they will be for you too.
3 Resources for us all…
Brené Brown – The Call to Courage special on Netflix: https://www.netflix.com/title/81010166
We Can Do Hard Things Podcast with Glennon Doyle: Five Criticism Survival Strategies (2/10/23 episode)
ReAwakening Wisdom Daily (RAW): This morning practice and community have been one of the best investments I’ve personally made in the past 5 years. Check it out. We’d love to have you!
As always, I hope this was helpful for you. If so, please feel free to share it with someone who you think would also find value in it. If you didn’t find this valuable, no problem, it’s fine. As we know, our words aren’t for everyone.