Sometimes I feel confident in myself and my writing, because I love doing it and I enjoy what I write (otherwise I wouldn't write it). But no matter how much positive feedback I get (and this is on life in general, not just writing) it seems that one negative comment can bring all the confidence crashing down.
I think, for most people, confidence is like a log cabin- one log can easily be rolled away, and the more logs there are, the more it takes to roll away and dismantle the cabin. But sometimes it seems like the positive reinforcement it takes to build the cabin is a lot smaller than the negative reinforcement it takes to dismantle it.
My novelette, The Secret Room, has been up on Amazon for about two weeks now. During that time, it has been read by numerous people who have given me amazing kudos and positive feedback (as well as feedback on what they are most interested in learning more about, which has spawned me to create a prequel/sequel to go deeper into the story), which I can't begin to say how astounded I am that The Secret Room became so well-liked. I'm humbled by an amazing and unexpected beginning into the world of self-publishing (and I know it's going to take a lot of work to keep it up and make a living doing what I love, but I feel that hard work will be worth it tenfold).
Then last night, I noticed a weird flux in the U.K. sales report, which has been constant all week. I looked on The Secret Room U.K. page, and saw reviews that I was unaware were there. There's two reviews, one is a 5-star saying how much they loved it, and the other is a 1-star saying how terrible it is and warning others not to waste the £0.77 ($0.99 USD). If you want to see the review: The Secret Room UK.
The weird thing is that I was selling zero copies in the U.K. until the review was published, then I sold 3 in a day. So I have no idea if that is just a coincidence, or if people were enticed by the negative review and the positive review and decided they want to read and find out for themselves. But I didn't sell the 3 copies until yesterday, and the review has apparently been up since the 14th, according to Amazon.
The more people read my work, the more I'll be faced with harsh criticism and negative reviews. It just comes with the territory. But as long as the positive is outweighing the negative, then it's all good. There is no way to please everyone, so bring it on. Even Stephen King gets negative reviews on his work!
When it comes down to it, I write because it's what I love. This isn't a get-rich-quick scheme (if anything, it's a get-rich-slow scheme, or more likely, a hope-you'll-make-an-acceptable-living-slow scheme) for me, and if I never sold another copy again, I'd still write. I would still work to finish all the stories and books I have planned, because it's in me and I need to get it out. But seeing that review kind of took me down, and even though it's the only really negative feedback I've received for The Secret Room, it is still making me question myself and my work.
I'm not taking it personal, though. I know not everyone will enjoy my stories. It's just hard to move on sometimes. But if you're in a valley of negativity, not moving on will mean staying in that valley. And I prefer the mountains.