Hola, fellow members of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, founded by the marvelous Alex J. Cavanaugh. A frequent topic in the group is dealing with negative feedback on our writing, whether it be via reviews, crit groups, or online forums. It seems we all agree that constructive criticism is rather like a visit to the dentist. It might hurt, but in the end we recognize that we're better off for it and will even come back for more.
And then there is the feedback that's just plain mean. This is like...like walking innocently down the sidewalk and having a random jogger punch you in the face. By the time you recover enough to ask why, the jogger has crossed the street and disappeared from your vision (this actually happened to my brother once, btw). It hurts, you're bruised, and you're left with no explanation as to what the jerk's problem was. Nothing good comes from this because there is no meaning in the meanness. All we can do is get up, shake it off, and try to not let it make us afraid to walk down the sidewalk again.
Thus far I've been fairly fortunate and haven't been dealt any blows I can't easily deflect, but if I strive to widen my audience...well, success will mean dealing with meanness. But not to worry, because I have an automatic go-to to make me feel better in that situation, and you may borrow it if you like. It's a comment from Mark Twain about Jane Austen's writing, copied below. What it serves to remind me of is that everyone approaches a book from a different standpoint. Some people will love it, some people won't, and some people will feel the need to spit venom over it. That's just the way it is.
Mark Twain in a letter to Joseph Twichell, 13 September 1898:
"I often want to criticise Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can't conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read 'Pride and Prejudice' I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone."
Janie had the good fortune of being dead when this letter was written, but even still, I can't imagine it didn't sting just a little. Yet that doesn't keep thousands and thousands of people (who are not Mark Twain) from adoring her work, me included.