Way, way back in the olden days, when I was new to the Internet, I enrolled in a pilot writing course. I remember very little about it, but the basic idea was to take an animal you related to; find a god or goddess who represented that animal and then there were a few months of writing exercises. It was a great idea.
I love cats. Here you can see our two beautiful boys, Monet and Picasso. I went to the University library and read up on the Egyptian goddess Bast, or Bastet. Bast is the goddess who is half woman, half cat. She is the reason why cats were revered in Egypt.
Now Bast had a war-like attitude when necessary, but overall, she was a lovely goddess. She was associated with protection, family and many a good party was held in her honour, with a lot of wine.
Now please remember, I was using the resources of a University library, not Wikipedia. Thus I presumed I got the correct facts. Some of these things aren’t easy to track without much more extensive research than I was doing. In ancient history, gods came and went and meanings changed. Bast later became known as Ailuros in Greek mythology, so god (excuse pun) only knows what facts were right and wrong, but it all led to a rather nasty incident.
This is Bast. She started it! Not me!
One of the texts referred to another lion-like goddess named Sekhmet. Sekhmet was introduced in that book as the negative alter-ego of Bast. If you were on her right side, she was a doctor-blessing healer. Get on her wrong side and there would be nothing left of you for any doctor to try and heal! She had, shall we say, some anger management issues. (Don’t blame me, blame the archaeologists who piece all this stuff together.) Re-reading a little now, it appears they were two very closely related goddesses with a lot of similarities, so I got it at least, partly right!
I wrote my second assignment, which was to report on the research of your god/goddess and whoa did I cop some hate mail! I couldn’t believe it. I reported the facts without judgement or any opinion, then I was fiercely attacked by multiple people and left stunned and amazed! I nearly would up in the Nile wearing concrete boots!
This is Sekhmet and I am grateful she didn’t step in and finish it! That would have been curtains for me…
The issue was, even in 1997, Bast was still being worshipped. The fact that she could still have followers would never have occurred to me in a trillion years! It could still be the case today. There were temples devoted to her in the United States, where people were lighting green candles in her honour.
No, they weren’t crazy. Some of the temple members were made up of intelligent people, with high powered careers that take above average IQ scores; hard work and a lot of common sense and ambition to achieve… including lawyers and they were now mad at me. Calling someone’s goddess “the lady of pestilence” was apparently, a very bad move. Apologies were not being gracefully accepted.
The point of all this is, as a writer, you will never make everyone happy. It is a fact you just have to accept. I, like you, dread and fear negative book reviews, but I know, they will come. We often want others to accept us and love our work as much as we do. We don’t cope well with being misunderstood, disliked and picked apart. When we have worked long and hard on a project, it hurts. One way to counteract that hurt is to try and accept, you just cannot make every reader happy. Don’t even try! Don’t believe it is ever going to be possible. Not everyone will see things your way and some people, out of their own insecurities, cope by making themselves feel superior to someone else. Thus, welcome to the horror of the bad review, but please, don’t take it to heart.
Honestly, it’s 2012 and do you believe that a half cat, half woman can still make your life better? (Good on you if you do, I have no problem with that.) If you, personally, think that belief is wrong, it’s not a big stretch to believe that bad feedback and negative reviews can simply be a wildly differing opinion too. They don’t mean you are a lousy writer and it’s time to give up! Reader’s opinions are based on the way they choose to see the world and we’re not all the same.
So hang in there and keep writing! Oh and the next time you light a green candle, remember that lovely cat lady and have a glass of wine in her honour.
This tongue in cheek, but completely true post, is Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2012. Bast and Sekhmet are Copyright the Ancient Egyptians, or themselves… you decide. I’m staying out of it!
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