“Reflection: It is presumably a bad thing to look through articles, reviews, etc. to find one’s own name. Yet I often do.”
~Virginia Woolf, A Writer’s Diary
While reading through Woolf’s diary, it’s easy to conclude: It’s good Virginia Woolf did not live in the time of Google or Amazon Reviews.
Because, holy moly! The girl was pretty obsessed with reading her own reviews. There’s a distinct pattern that emerges in her diary that goes something like this:
- Write book. (In this stage she gives her progress reports, seems perky, debates difficulties that appear in the piece)
- Finishes draft. (In this stage she gives a big sigh of relief, doubts start cropping up, she makes plans for revision.)
- Revision. (Much more debate about pros and cons of piece, doubt, doubt, doubt, then she thinks it’s not as bad as she thought, reassures herself that she is writing solely for herself and doesn’t care what other people think, gives lowball number of expected sales.)
- Goes to Leonard, her husband. (Much nail biting.)
- Leonard sounds off, usually positively (Rejoicing!)
- The book comes out. (More nail biting. More assurances that she writes for herself and knows her own mind. She starts tracking sales numbers)
- Reviews come out. (Generally much rejoicing because she’s a super-genius, person A was positive, person B was colder, there’s no writing during this time, she freezes and reads and reads and reads all about what people say about her…eventually she falls into a funk, sometimes talks herself out with sales numbers)
- After much self-talk she gets it back in gear and works on her next book…back to step 1.
And if she was struggling with a book? Multiply all of those emotional reactions times ten. Yeah, I think it’s best that she wrote when she did. Google and Amazon would not do her any favors. And Goodreads? Where the whole point is that everyone sounds off on what they read? She’d never be off the internet!