My husband and I went to Shakespeare in the Park a few weeks ago. We loved watching A Midsummer Night’s Dream under the stars with a picnic dinner. When it was over, we made a dash for the parking lot, for when we are in any kind of a crowd my husband wants to be one of the first to his car and in line to head home. And so we hurried through the dark, arms full of coolers and lawn chairs, eyes intent on our vehicle. Halfway over a grassy median, I felt a sting on my toe, then the heat of fire radiating over my foot. I knew my husband would be frustrated to look back and find me stopped, so I limped on, fighting the whimper of pain until we were in the car and moving forward.
Fire ants. I didn’t realize it until the next morning when the base of my big toe was covered in angry welts. They hurt. They itched. They looked nasty. And it took forever for them to heal.
Not long after that incident, I saw an early review of A Home for My Heart. It wasn’t terrible, but like the bite of those fire ants, some of the words stung, the pain lingering for a few days. And it occurred to me that less than glowing book reviews are indeed like those fire ant bites in several important ways.
- sting like fire at first.
- leave a lingering welt that takes a while to completely disappear, but they
- dull to a manageable pain over time.
- remind me to watch where I walk (be it on the ground or over the internet!).
- won’t kill me.
And yet fire ant bites and book reviews have one big, distinguishable difference: I can choose how I respond to book reviews.
My body chooses my response to fire ant bites–the pain, the itch, the blisters. But I choose how my heart reacts to book review pain. I can choose to remember that there will be as many different reviews as there are readers. That one person’s opinion doesn’t necessarily reflect what others will think. I can choose to remember all that God did–things beyond my control–to bring the book about, knowing I wrote the best I could at that moment in my life. And I can choose to learn from any small bit of criticism that might have even a molecule of validity.
So while fire ant bites and book reviews might have some major similarities, they also have some huge differences as well. I would do well to remember both. So as I go into this book release season, I’m actually glad those angry little ants found my feet that particular night. They have helped me keep things in perspective.