I'm not a risk-taker. The most spontaneous thing I do on any given day is to decide what to eat for lunch... at lunchtime, with no prior planning. The second most spontaneous thing I do each day is decide whether to drink my coffee black or with a little half-and-half. I'm not kidding. That's how much I like flying by the seat of my pants.
So I should have known that taking a risk with my writing had the potential to meet with undesirable results.
Plain Jayne is a modern-day adaptation of Jane Eyre that I wrote on a whim. A months-long whim, granted, but a whim nonetheless. And along with some really positive reviews, it's also bringing me some of the nastiest, most negative reviews my work has ever received.
But I'm not here to whine about bad reviews. Really. Honestly. I want to talk about learning to take risks, despite the very real possibility of bad--or in this case--mixed results. A risk doesn't have to be a complete success to be successful.
I'm grateful to Plain Jayne. It's a departure from the norm that has--for the most part--paid off. For one, it jerked me out of my comfort zone. It's important to do that every once in a while. Wouldn't want to get too comfortable, right? Comfort is for sissies!
In addition, Plain Jayne has brought two new, very special people into my life. Real people, not imaginary ones (although I do love Jayne and Lucas). I like making new friends, especially these two. They've greatly enriched my life, and I have Plain Jayne to thank for it.
Less overtly positive, it has taught me that not everything is going to be an unmitigated success. Oh, I've already learned that lesson in all the other facets of my life, but my writing has been something that hasn't faced overwhelming rejection and disapproval. It was time to get a healthy dose of it.
Enter Plain Jayne.
"I wanted to tear my eyes out."
"Seemed to drag a bit."
Hmmm... I think I see a pattern here.
Now for a sampling of some of the POSITIVE things people not related to me have said in public forums about Plain Jayne (we don't want Jayne to get a complex, after all).
"Funny, entertaining book."
"A fresh read."
"REALLY good. And funny--so funny!"
"I didn't want it to end."
"I didn't want to put it down."
"Yet another well-written, engaging book."
And interestingly enough:
"Great with Tuscan Whole Milk."
Okay, then. I'll take it.
And you know what else I'll take? I'll take the criticism. I'll take ownership of Plain Jayne. I'm proud of it. I like it. I like the characters. I like the story. And I liked writing it (except for the times that I hated writing it). It actually felt good to do something different and challenge myself.
Plus, as the contradicting comments above clearly show, what one person hates is what another person loves (with milk, apparently).
So, whether it's with writing or any other part of your life that you're passionate about, learn to take some risks. Even if you stumble or fall down while doing it, no failure is a complete failure. It's not going to kill you. (Unless it's skydiving or cliffdiving or some other physically dangerous pursuit. In those cases, you may want to take fewer risks.)
If you'd like to see what camp you'd fall into ("Boo!" "Yay!" or "Great with Tuscan Whole Milk"), check out Plain Jayne and all my other books at www.breabrown.com. And, please, feel free to give an HONEST review. My skin is thickening, and my pillow is very absorbent.