Somewhere in the tender, aching place where your skin isn’t tough enough, where your practical shields failed to protect the vulnerable creativity of your writing heart, bad reviews will always hurt. Disappointment crushes you small and all the introverted cells crowded into your body send you staring out your bedroom window for hours at a time, cringing for such an open display of all your failures. It won’t last forever, though I do suspect these days teach us lessons we may not recognize for months or years or decades.
We’re not ‘supposed’ to have these moments. Showing vulnerability is a liability in the shark-infested waters of marketing and promoting ourselves as writers. But of course it’s there, human skin is never tough until a callus earns its place after a lengthy period of pain and sensitivity. We’re not elephants or wee armored pangolins. It’s all right if it hurts.
This vulnerability is the same one which enables us to catch our readers by their heart strings and we do ourselves a disservice to ignore it. Acknowledge it. Protect it. Build shields of logic around it.
Hide pieces of your own creative strength in your places, tucked into books, in folders of past successes, in the ivory space between letters on a page. It will be safe there until the day comes you need to remember what it was like to believe in yourself again. Then retrieve it, use it, hold on to it. Just. Don’t. Give. Up. Nothing, even bad reviews, are written in stone. Or on stone, as it were. This is how we grow.