“You sholl is ugly,” was funny coming from the drunken lips of Shug Avery and maybe a tad bit true. Celie was a bonafide 2.5 out of 5.0 stars. Out of the kindness of my own heart, I bumped her up to a 3.0 because she’d been through so much. I’m a little curious, did you ever, just once empathize with how Celie must have felt to hear those words? Yes, I know it’s only Hollywood, but still. And did you know that Young Celie was played by an attractive actress by the name of Desreta Jackson?
I said all that to say this; behind every book is a real person, an author with real feelings. Now, I won’t defend or deny the allegations that there are books out there lurking in the stacks with very disparaging quality issues. I have taken some pretty questionable material home myself. I don’t just write—I read, too. I will say that every book is not for every reader and when the wrong reader gets a hold of the wrong genre, literary style, context content, etc, then non-favorable results can happen, and it is quite possible that someone will end up pulling the cover back and calling my baby, my book, ugly to my face. Gasp! Ouch! Faint! Fighting words!
Okay, so I won’t go so far as to tell anyone… I repeat, I am NOT telling anyone not to leave an honest review. The truth is the truth and if the rating fits then the author must own it, good, bad or indifferent. I’m speaking from experience here; I have some reviews that haunt me. However, I am saying that if I whine, moan, gripe or complain, get pissed or go the h. e. double hockey sticks off about a review, so what? My book, my reviews and I can cry if I want to. Those are all very natural and human responses anyone would have if someone called their baby ugly, right? Of course I’m all teeth when I get a favorable review. Don’t we all chin and grin when someone stops, peeks inside our baby’s carriage and says, “What a cutie you have in there. Can I hold it?” Proud Mom coming through! Clear the way for a good book! Everybody come see!
So, why get upset you may ask? Because, I initially wrote that book to make me happy—to quench that internal fire inside of me screaming for words. You know, live out my purpose and all that positive stuff. I published that book to make you, the reader, happy. It’s for sale. You paid your hard-earned money and with your coins jingling in my pocket I had hoped for a fair exchange—no robbery. Out of all the books on the shelves you took my baby home and I really wanted you to be satisfied until the last page. I wanted you to tell all your friends, “Hey, look at Nakia’s pretty baby.” But you weren’t and I failed you. Noooooo! You feel let down and I feel like I let you down. None of which was not my intent, even if I needed to go back to the drawing board, take some writing classes, get my day job back or hire a better editor (Lol, I had to laugh myself). I didn’t give up months/years of my life, my sleep to peck out 90K words just to make you, the reader, miserable for a couple days. One happy reader makes me smile and one dissatisfied reader hurts a thousand times over. I don’t know why, it just does.
Girl, you better grow some thick skin, they all say. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I hear you, but anything that has to grow takes time to do so. But, for right now …
I’m an artist and I’m sensitive about my shit. – Erykah Badu
Nakia Laushaul is an inspirational poet, motivational speaker, novelist and entrepreneur. Her titles include: “The Truth As I See It: In Poetry & Prose” and “Running from Solace,” the 2011 USA Book News Best Books Award Winner for African-American Fiction. Nakia is currently working on her third book and resides in Houston, Texas, with her son.