Triumph and Disaster

There is a quote above the entrance to Centre Court at Wimbledon, the home of lawn tennis, that is taken from Rudyard Kipling’s poem If (written in 1895 and published in 1910). The quote is ‘If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same’. The message of the line and indeed the poem is that it is important to maintain your equilibrium and not be swayed or over react to either the good or the bad but hold a steady path.

If by Rudyard Kipling by J. Brew courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0

I was reminded of that in the last couple of weeks as I launched my debut novel The Flower Seller. I have received some lovely reviews – a couple have moved me to tears but Kipling’s quote kept coming back to me. It is important to remember that the reviewers are reviewing my work not me. It is easy to get caught up in the wrong mindset. As writers we put our hearts and souls into our books. We want them to succeed but more than anything we want people to say nice things about them. Once a book is out there in the big, wide world however, we can no longer control who reads it or what they say about it. This is another reason why it is important to hold on to who you are rather than let your mood be swayed by what you do and how people react to it.

Weight of the world
Weight of the world by Britt-Knee courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-ND 2.0

Receiving great reviews is a wonderful feeling but you still have to go back to work and write the next book. Glowing comments can make you feel good. You should be proud of the achievement of having completed a novel. Even bad books are hard work to write. But you shouldn’t carry the baggage of reviews back to the keyboard with you. If you are not careful good reviews will have you paralysed as you struggle with the problems of your next story and suddenly as well as all your normal gripes and writing hang ups you will find you have developed a new set centred around the concept of ‘the next book will never be as good as the last’. If you want to write anything at all, good or bad, you will have to shut out all of the reviews your previous work has received or else risk being hamstrung by them.

Haywire by Porsche Brosseau courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

I have been lucky so far with regard to bad reviews. But they will come because all authors get them. I was warned recently not to read any one or two star reviews EVER. Once you read them the words will be on a replay loop in your mind and you will either be hurt by the views or stung by the injustice if you don’t agree with them. They will also follow you back to the keyboard and lurk in your psyche. When you are at your lowest and gripped by the absolute certainty that you cannot write a good sentence to save your life that is when they will pounce and every word of those sharp reviews will cut you again.

Shred me
Shred me by David Goehring courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

One things is certain, you will never forget them. Ask sportspeople about their greatest triumphs and they will smile and recount their feelings. Ask them about their losses and the pain will be etched deeply on their faces as if it happened only yesterday instead of weeks, months or years ago. They will recall the smallest detail surrounding the loss and admit they still think about how things could have been done differently.

The pain of defeat seems to outweigh the joy we feel over triumph.

As writers we can save ourselves from the pain by not reading the bad reviews. The bravest of us would be strong enough to resist reading any review. I am not that brave but I am going to try my best to exist in my bubble and not let any review, good or bad, influence my work when I next sit down to write. Wish me luck!

Protected by Hartwig HKD courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-ND 2.0

This is the latest in my series of writing related blogs. My debut novel The Flower Seller is now on sale

The Flower Seller by Ellie Holmes



12 thoughts on “Triumph and Disaster

  1. mmleonard 16/06/2016 / 8:07 am

    Who cares about reviews? Sales are only thing that matter


    • ellieholmesauthor 16/06/2016 / 12:26 pm

      Sales do matter, of course but reviews can influence sales and also help to secure things such as a Bookbub promotion which can lead to more sales so reviews matter too. One helps the other.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mmleonard 16/06/2016 / 12:28 pm

        Those are all temp gimmicks.a good book will encourage word of mouth.

        Best thing to do is to write a sequel and have it ready.


    • ellieholmesauthor 16/06/2016 / 12:33 pm

      Word of mouth is hugely influential and you are absolutely right you will be dead in the water if you can’t keep good books of the same standard coming. No pressure 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • mmleonard 16/06/2016 / 12:39 pm

        I’m holding off on mine until sequels are done. No sense to rush.


      • ellieholmesauthor 16/06/2016 / 12:41 pm

        It’s a popular move. Good luck with it all – let me know how it goes when you are ready to release.

        Liked by 1 person

      • mmleonard 16/06/2016 / 1:06 pm

        You too. I’ll tweet whatever you got just let me know.


      • ellieholmesauthor 18/06/2016 / 8:04 am

        Great stuff. Are we following each other on twitter? You can find me at @elliehwriter do let me have your twitter handle and if I’m not following already I will do so 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Jax Burrows 16/06/2016 / 1:18 pm

    I have just recently finished The Flower Seller and have been meaning to tell you how much I enjoyed it. Been busy editing a book and reading some new How to Write Books I’ve discovered. IMHO you have nothing to worry about. If you can write a debut novel as riveting, page turning and moving as The Flower Seller than your talent will out with the next novel, and the next… And whilst the reviews are useful, they are just the tip of the iceberg. So many readers never write reviews (I don’t!) for various reasons. The people who bought TFS will buy your next as I will. You will soon have a following eager for your next story. Many of them won’t ever review they’ll be too busy reading! And don’t forget, romance writers are readers too. Best of luck.


    • ellieholmesauthor 18/06/2016 / 8:01 am

      Thanks Jax. I am delighted you enjoyed The Flower Seller. Word of mouth and building a strong fan base are so important to visibility. Do let me know when I can read your book 🙂


  3. kjw616 06/07/2016 / 12:51 pm

    Reading this post makes me wonder what would make me feel better: No reviews or poor reviews. I have none, but then, my book has been out only 2 months. I guess I need to stop obsessing about it.


    • ellieholmesauthor 07/07/2016 / 1:10 pm

      Well the reviews will come whether we worry about them or not so just take the ‘whatever will be, will be’ approach and don’t torture yourself by reading the negative ones 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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