Pretty much the same way it felt when I was querying.
My heart starts pounding, my throat goes dry, my hands shake, my stomach churns. It’s possible I might throw up a little. The anticipation is agonizing. Is the review going to be good? Is it going to be bad? A little of both?
The first time I read a review, I don’t actually read. I SCAN. As fast as my beady little eyes will allow (yes, they’re beady, because I can’t bring myself to open them all the way, lest I see something I’m not ready for). This first pass takes about seven seconds. By the eighth second, I’m breathless and have a mild headache from the squinting.
I take a few deep breaths until my heart rate slows down and my vision clears. Then I go back and read the review again. Slowly.
It takes a few minutes to fully process the words.
And then, relief sets in.
The relief isn’t because of what the review said. The relief is because I SURVIVED READING IT.
What did Hitchcock say? “There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.” The review itself is never as terrible as the anticipation of it is. For me, it’s just like it was when I was querying. No agent or editor response was ever as bad as those few seconds before opening the email. Those few seconds of apprehension were always the worst.
The Sensitive Drama Queen in me is always surprised that I haven’t dropped dead from a heart attack from all the stress that comes with publishing. Because sometimes I really feel like I’m going to (I just said I was a Drama Queen). But then I remember that I survived two writers’ workshops, two critique groups, and dozens of rejections. Like all writers, my work has been shredded in magnificent detail, no punches pulled, by some of the most brutally honest people out there.
And yet we’re still here, aren’t we? Still breathing. Still writing. Still querying. Still doing our thing. Still loving what we do.
Pretty amazing, when you think about it.