Why I Cried From A Negative Book Review

No, Grandma, I did not write a book yet. Instead, I read a book and was going to leave a review on Amazon for it.

No, Grandma, I wasn’t going to leave a negative review, neither. Instead, I glanced at a negative review on the side and the rare emotional side of me put me in tears.

Okay, I am lying again. The emotional side of me isn’t rare. I cry a lot. There’s an overflowing of compassion in me, believe it or not, that doesn’t always come out in my tweets complaining about traffic. 

I’ll quit lying and being elusive and explain now. 

I was part of a book launch team for Jeff Goins’ “Art of Work.” As part of the launch team, we are asked to write a honest review of the book. So, a few weeks late, I went to go write my review on Amazon. I wasn't really sure what to write other than: "I highlighted a lot of lines! Tweeted a lot of quotes from this! It was great and I love Jeff!" so, I glanced at other reviews for what people put. 

And I saw a negative review on there that broke my heart. This review wasn’t mean. It didn’t call Jeff any bad names or insult his gingerness (that’s a real word, Microsoft Word, shush!)
But that does not mean you have to do the job you hate. It means someone else may be happy to do the job you don't want to.
And if this lady wants a hug, I’ll give her a hug. Somehow?

The review was rather short; shown below:

Reason 1: Not everyone gets to be the “real them”?
I wanted to hug this person. The fact that I want to hug them is a very telling because I am not a physical touch type of person. But someone believes they don’t get to be the “real them” is probably what breaks my heart the most in the whole world. Why doesn’t everyone get to be the real them? 

Wait, back up, isn’t that the point of this whole book? If you read it or heard about me talk about it, the premise is that you have some things in you that are unique to you. And it’s more than a job; it’s more than a career or something for a paycheck. 

I’ve been calling it “a sentence” to my friends when I explain it. That it’s something that goes beyond retirement. It’s something that started before you had your first job. It’s more than a word that follows your name when you introduce yourself to people. It’s a sentence that continues throughout your life.

Not, “Hi I’m Carlee. I’m a writer.”

It’s: “Hi, I’m Carlee and I have a lot of feelings and think the way people order their coffee is beautiful and I like to share with people what I find in every day life and in complaining about traffic.”

I’m still working on that sentence. But the point is, that sentence was probably close to the same way I was when I was six years old and it will probably be close to the way I am when I am 60 years old. Because that’s pretty close to the real me.

And I can be that real me in any career. I can lay in bed all day and never work a day in my life and I will still be the real me. A broke version of the real me, but nonetheless. Which leads me to the next reason I am crying.

Reason 2: Someone has to do the jobs you don’t want to?
Last year, I was driving from Michigan to Nashville with my mom and two friends. My friend Ryan was driving us and Ryan flew past a giant raised black Dodge Ram 1500 on the highway and I yelped, “That’s my dream car!” 

Ryan exclaimed, “THAT’S your dream car? Come on Carlee, dream bigger!”

We argued and I told him “I don’t want a tiny fancy car. I like big beautiful trucks that I need a ladder to get in to.”

This sparked something in Ryan about how people don’t dream big enough. You see, Ryan is a professional football player in the NFL. To him, he is living his dream. Because I am impatient, I interrupted him. We argued about how everyone can in fact have this dream life, but not everyone wants to be a professional athlete. I told him someone out there thinks it would be great to be able to do something as simple as run a grocery store. Ryan and I argued on the same side of the issue, and it was evident we were stuck in a car for eight hours and getting antsy. But we both understood that you don’t have to have the job you hate. (Not forever at least, but that’s another topic)

We have a million different career options, and believe it or not, there are people who like to be accountants. I don’t know how many of these people were dropped on their heads as children, but I do know that most of the accountants I know love it. 

Yes, someone does have to do those jobs you don’t want to and that’s great! Because I do not want to be a football player and guess what? Someone does! You don’t want to sit and write for hours? You hated papers in college? GREAT! Because that was not me at all!

So, let this be my first negative feeling of a negative book review. I hope that one-day when I have a book on Amazon that this is the type of negative review I get. The type of negative review that doesn’t insult me the same way I was insulted in middle school. It’s the type of negative review that reminds us we have a lot to talk about still. One book won’t fix the whole world, but I know judging by my run on sentence about my calling above, this book caused me to rethink what I was “called” to.

I can't do this alone

Some weeks are all about celebrations (like my Maybe Party). Some weeks are all about work and locking myself at my desk (just kidding, bed) to get inside my own head. This past week was about community.

I don’t think looking at my calendar for the week I realized it would be a social week. And the older version of me would have been exhausted just looking the lack of white space on iCal. But whoever I am becoming (or rather I think always were and it’s being uncovered) I was rejuvenated by the sense of community.

I’m working on a writing project that all started because I was at a conference and heard the statement: “Nashville is the most supportive city in the world for dreams.” And I wondered if it were true, or if we were just sitting in a room of a couple hundred entrepreneurs whose businesses were in Nashville.

But this week I sat in rooms surround by celebration, and work, and mostly community. And I’m becoming more convinced that statement is true.

I stood feet from Jeff Goins as he took the microphone at his book launch party for Art of Work. A party to celebrate the work that has gone into pages and pages of uncovering that our calling isn’t our vocation or one single thing we do. And he said it stated that he felt like he didn’t write the book as much as he just got to tell the stories. As Jeff thanked those involved in this book and surrounded by people in the room excited for his work coming to life, he said the statement that snowballed my week: “Every story of success is a story of community.”

The next evening, on another side of town with a room filled with completely different type of people, my friend Lauren had a show in Germantown. As she introduced herself while setting up her microphone, she said “Half of this room are my best friends” which was true.  A dozen of us sat in the second row together, and the brief moments while Lauren sang and opened her eyes, I wondered if she could see us. I thought, “How amazing that she can look out into a room and see her friends.” I would like to say I maybe sort of have it made when I can look out into a room and see my friends excited for me.

Not even seven hours later, I stood in another room at Creative Mornings, full of creatives. Microsoft Word is telling me “creatives” isn’t a word, but it really is. Once a month, I stand in a room full of other people who are feelers, makers, the types of people who art. (use “art” as a proper verb there, because, Microsoft Word, it is!) And in actuality, without the refuel of being around creatives, hearing talks about making art (whatever your art is) and watching as a dozen photographers stage photos that I can only appreciate from afar, I would not be able to continue.

The shows that Lauren performs in wouldn’t happen without the planning done by Cause A Scene, in which Larry constantly surrounds us in venues where connecting with others is to happen. More than just music, but community.

My marathon training wouldn’t happen without annoyingly texting my friends how I don’t want to do the race but then afterwards ask them what part of course they want to post up and hold a poster for me at. 

Going back to that writing project I started, I used to think I could do it alone. I used to think I would lock myself in a room one day, write until my heart burst and I would have a book. I knew it was a lot harder than that, but I didn’t have the notion I needed people for this.

When God convicts you, it’s not mean or rude. You won’t feel guilt or shame when God corrects you. When God shows you where you have it wrong, it’s loving. And I like to be proved wrong that way. I cannot write alone. Some days, I can and should. But writing a book is hard when you have a tendency to not finish your own sentences. You need other ideas, and mentors, and a perspective outside of yourself.

So, I wish I could tell my eight-year-old self that this weekend I am going on a writer’s retreat. My eight-year-old self would have no idea what that was, and I would tell her “You get to go away for a weekend and sit with other people and write. Write all you want but with other people.” But, I need this. I need to be in a community when I am stuck in my writing.

I cannot do it alone. I can’t day-to-day life alone, nor can I completely work alone. Even if I could, I don’t think it was be as good as if I connected with others.

If there is ever a day I can stand in front of people to celebrate something other than a maybe. To have “finished a race” as Jeff Goins said on Wednesday, I want to be able to look out to my community. My family. My friends. The people who encouraged me to try, the same people who told me to try again after I failed. It wouldn’t be fun to look into an empty room or eat cake at my kitchen table by myself.