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Dear all,

Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s been over a month and all that! I couldn’t even remember my password to get on here…but I promise I’ll sit on the naughty step later.

This week’s blog post is all about the phenomenon that is ‘The Review’. That tricky process whereby people answer the niggling questions in every indie author’s aching and caffeine overloaded head; Am I good enough to cut it? Do I make a good writer? Do I have potential? Am I getting it right?

It may or may not be news to some but, although I am generally quite a sociable and happy person, I feel like a fraud most of the time. I even felt like I was lying when I had to start completing forms declaring that I had dependents. I always feel like I’m telling fibs and I just don’t know why! I clearly have children and the state of my car is testament to that! I obtained a degree when I was twenty-six but I still hate having to produce the certificate of graduation in interviews. I worry they might scratch at the ink, hold it up to the light and then pass it under a UV ray, where they will suddenly exclaim, ‘But how? You left school with only two GCSEs!’ Out of all of my quirky, not quite fitting labels, it was publishing my debut novel, Poker Face, that felt like the biggest pork pie of them all! I still can’t look people in the eye and say it’s doing well!

I am a big analyser (or a petite analyser depending on how you want to look at it) and I’ve spent a great deal of time recently trying to work out this ‘fraud’ type aspect of my personality. I have concluded that the reason all of these things feel like a lie is because I can’t truly label myself as something until I know I have done it well. For example, in my opinion, a mum is someone who does more than just carry and give birth to a baby. The title encompasses a long term nurturing position and, until my children have become completely independent, I won’t know exactly what kind of mum I have been. All I know right now is that I desperately want to be a good one.

When it comes to the degree, I left school with only two qualifications and had to go back to college where they managed to drag another three GCSEs out of me. I later went on to do an A Level in law, which I failed (lots of tears around this time) and then had a chat with my local university. Because I was a mature student (don’t laugh, I can do mature) and had been working in a law firm for five years, they agreed to let me enrol.  I graduated three years later but I didn’t do it glowingly and I didn’t wow anyone with a string of first class essays along the way. Consequently, I ended up feeling like I wasn’t quite worthy and the qualification feels kind of alien. I’m waiting for the mother ship to come take it back!

The same can be applied to my writing. Writing 90,000 words and turning them into a book doesn’t make me feel like I can call myself an author. I need to know that my work does exactly what a book should do. I need someone to tell me ‘Jess, you’re not lying, you can write!’ (Shock horror, fancy that!) For me, reviews and ratings are the next best thing to having an agent or publisher who could give me that seal of approval my confidence really needs. My best reviews tell me that I may well be able to cut it in the big bad world of writing and publishing (note I say ‘may’ for I will never be so bold as to assume I ever will, even with my most fabarooney reviews and shiniest of stars). My most critical reviews fill my mind with dread and indecision and they are inclined to make my writing style reach for its blue and white patchwork security blanket!

I was chatting to someone the other day about how I am dreading the really crappy (technical term for a bad review) one star and the inevitable slating that will accompany it. However, people review for different reasons and individual tastes range widely. I know this, so, I have decided that I am going to approach that one star with the following analogy in mind:-

If I want to buy a new vacuum cleaner from Argos I pick three in my price range and then I check the customer reviews. They range from the five star, ‘This vacuum does exactly what you’d hope it would do and I’m very happy with my purchase,’ through to the gritty one star, ‘This might have sucked up but all of my cleaning paraphernalia is metallic red, always has been and always will be! I like red, I like metallic and I like shiny! However, this vacuum (if you can even call it a vacuum) is definitely not the metallic red vacuum illustrated in the picture IT! IS! PINK! And, to make matters worse, it isn’t even shiny…IT’S MATT! I am so not happy! More to the point I will never, I repeat NEVER, buy a vacuum from this manufacturer again. Oh, for the record, the suction was pretty good and it even managed to swallow up my metallic red duster without blocking. I am cross about this also, I loved that duster!’

Suddenly that one star isn’t really quite so bad. Personally that’s exactly the kind of vacuum cleaner I’m looking for!

Thanks for reading and take care from me guys.

Jess 😀 x

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