What does it mean to be critically acclaimed?

A year ago, I got word from Candlewick that MWD received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews , which I was told was a big deal. Honestly, I had no idea what Kirkus was, or that they have a history of being prickly and tough to hand out starred reviews. This isn’t my day job.

Nevertheless, I was pretty pumped about that review because it was the first official review we received. Of course, we received plenty of reviews from Goodreads, mostly good and some absurdly bad (1 goddamn star!). As an aside, what kind of sick bastard do you have to be to give a book 1 star? Seriously, if you hate it that much, STOP READING, put down the book and go outside or something. Sorry, I still get pissed thinking about it.

The truth of the matter is that this review from Kirkus was a huge ego stroke for me. I walked around mouthing the words “critically acclaimed author Brian Johnson.” It was a real high. That high continued for about three months, right until the publishing company told me that they wouldn’t pay for any book tour, that I would have to hire my own publicist, that essentially I was on my own.

I have so many conflicted feelings about the experience. The bigger part of me is grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given to have a book that is in libraries all over the world, a book that I truly believe will make an impact. However, the other part of me is pissed off. I’m pissed that this book hasn’t crossed over, despite the fact that we nailed so many issues that have been percolating in 2017.  I’m pissed off that stories of female veterans haven’t been embraced by the broader public, despite the fact that women are serving on the front lines.

I guess I’m also pissed that I let myself believe that being “critically acclaimed” was the culmination of something, rather than just another step in a long journey.

I built this blog to promote MWD but I think that’s over. I’m going to use it from here on in to document my struggle, hone my craft and occasionally discuss the Boston Celtics. I doubt anyone will read this, which is good. I like starting from scratch.

“Burn your idols”


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