Tuesday, May 6, 2014

In Good Company with Bad Reviews

“I’m an artist and I’m sensitive about my shit.”

Last week, I heard these words in a song that was playing on the radio on my drive home.  They really resonated with me and have been stuck in my head ever since. 

Armed with nothing more than one line stuck in my head, I set out to find the artist and the song so I could hear it again and offer my support to the artist by purchasing the song. In doing so, I stumbled across the origin of the song. The song is called Fragile and the artist is Tech N9ne who featured the talents of Kendrick Lamar, ¡Mayday! and Kendall Morgan. It turns out Fragile was written in response to a negative L.A. Weekly review of the rapper’s performance at one of his shows. The song details the rapper’s reaction to this and all critics of his work and how and why it affects him.

When I heard that, I liked the song even more. After sitting down and listening to the song again, I liked it even more. Every time I hear the song, I find something new to like in particular and more to like overall.
Even though it was written by a rapper and was aimed at music critics, it reflects the feelings of anyone who labels himself as an artist. And you can count me among that group.

For me, writing a story is the easy part. Sharing that story with the world is the difficult part. Everything I write comes from my heart and means something to me. Letting others read my work is like letting them into my soul.  Whenever I release a new story, I always hold my breath and hope the reactions are favorable.

I can honestly say that I have never received 100% favorable reviews on any of my work. I don’t think any writer has. Bad reviews are bitter pills to swallow. When I get a bad review, I do my best to focus on the good reviews, which is easier to do when the good ones outnumber the bad. Still, no matter how many good reviews I get, it’s those bad ones that seem to stick with me a little longer and always make me second guess my talent. That’s especially true when the bad reviews are nothing short of nasty.

Many of us grew up with our mothers telling us that if we didn’t have anything nice to say then we shouldn’t say anything at all. The advent of the internet and the coming of the social media age seems to have obsoleted that advice. Social media makes it easier than ever to say what’s on our mind and to do it in a way that’s hurtful and that’s probably not going to change.

The lyrics of Fragile are proof positive that I’m not the only artist feeling the sting of bad reviews. At least I can take comfort in the fact that I’m in good company.

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