Tuesday, February 02, 2010

One of those days...

Last week, I received some not-so-great comments on BPOD from someone I admire greatly, and, ten minutes later, I received an awesome, incredibly touching fan mail that will go in the 'saved file' forever. Despite the fan mail, I can't deny that I was bummed by the first. It's not a great feeling to know your work has appeared lackluster in the eyes of someone you admire, and whose work you support. Two vastly different emails, two vastly different takes, left this newbie author feeling like she needed a nap (thought this might have something to do with having two young children and a full-time writing gig). ;-)

Now, don't make the mistake of thinking I'm grudging against the giver of those not-so-great comments. Far from it. It is what it is. On the flipside, I've gotten amazing comments from others I admire greatly as well. Even the pros in this biz have different opinions. Obviously not everyone is going to like my work, no matter who they are - reviewer, author, reader, family, friend, etc... I knew that going in, and I know that now. It's a subjective medium. Sure, I'll admit, being a debut author, I want to start off well in this business, so some days I am more vulnerable than others in terms of reader reaction. Some days, I wake confident and can handle whatever comes my way. Somedays, I wake feeling bare and totally second-guessing my work, and last week was one of those days, so I'll also admit to being a bit more susceptible to the 'sting' I was experiencing.

By the next day, however, the sting was gone. It bears repeating: It's all subjective. I've read comments from established reviewers and new reviewers, fans who have written to me, and best selling authors who had read my work. And inevitably, what one person doesn't like is the exact thing many others do like. Sometimes it mirrors this so perfectly. "Couldn't connect with Charlie." v. "Felt like I really connected with her". "Charlie is too harsh." v. "Charlie is open, vulnerable, and real." Indeed, when I was submitting this book to agents, I had two rejections that said: "Too much backstory" and "Not enough backstory." There's just no way in hell to win with everyone. And, more, importantly, I don't write with winning in mind. I write the stories in my heart and head, the ones I feel compelled to tell, and if some people enjoy them, then that's awesome. If they don't, that's okay, too. But, there are days where I wished I would've 'won' with a particular reader, but *shrugs* what can you do...

There are certainly books out there that I didn't connect with, but, initially, despite reviews or comments, I like to make up my own mind. I'm not going to cross a book off my reading list just because the story didn't connect with a particular reader or industry pro. Because, 'connection' happens on an individual level. People view and relate to things differently. It's the same for movies, art, or any creative medium... Influence can swing both ways, though. A book that normally wouldn't be on my reading list might make it on if the reviews and chatter is so overwhelming that I have to see what all the fuss is about. So good comments might add a book, but bad comments will never take a book off my list -- I still want to make up my own mind...

So there's my commentary for the day. (More like random, scatter-brained, sometimes contradictory, thoughts. But you all who read my blog know this can be a frequent occurence.) :D

12 comments:

Demon Hunter said...

I understand that. It's all subjective. Thanks for sharing. I'll need to remember this when I make my debut. :-D

Corrie said...

Synchronicity is a funny thing... Just today I finished a book by Orson Scott Card, the afterword of which chronicled his trials and tribulations with getting a particular novel published. Two of the things that he wrote about were the "blurb" (which you mentioned on Facebook) and the perception of others who read it.

Specifically when writing about the latter, it was clear that his agent, his editor and his publisher were all unclear about the nature and purpose of the book (can you imagine?). It wasn't until years later that he was able to get it published in the form that he intended.

You're right, it is all subjective, but I think it's critical to write what the spirit (or the muse, or whatever) moves you to write. Not everyone is going to love it, but as long as YOU do, people will take it seriously.

(And you can add me to the "loved it" list for yours.)

Kelly Gay said...

Demon Hunter -- Love the way you think.*fingers crossed* for your impending debut. ;-)

Thanks, Corrie! And you're so right. Staying true to yourself and your own creative sense is crucial. When I wrote BPOD it was without pressure or reviews or anything. Writing the second book, I found myself feeling a lot of pressure to please other people based on their comments of the first book. It really got in the way, and made it a tough project for a while. Then, I wised up and put all the pressure aside, and remembered why I write, and how happy it makes me, and I just started writing the book I wanted to write and not what I thought others expected. Now it's done, and I *love* it!

Melissa Carmichael said...

Whew! You scared me there for a minute. I loved BPOD, back story, world building and especailly Charlie.

Looking forward to the next book.

Melissa

P.S. I'll try not to read it so fast this time. I realize you can only write but so fast:)

Moonsanity said...

First, sorry about the bad day:( Since I've been reading and writing reviews I've been stunned at the differing views. Books I loved and kept to read again, some people hated. I loved your book by the way, but I know some readers like everything to be very positive, no darkness, with a very black and white take on life, evil, good, etc. I also think sometimes people review after they've had a bad day. BAHAHAHAHA

Kelly Gay said...

Thanks, Melissa! :D

Moonsanity -- Me, too! Sometimes I'm amazed to read bad reviews on books I absolutely adore. And just as amazed by glowing reviews on books that totally didn't appeal to me. Just goes to show how diverse the reactions and tastes can be.

Nancy Holzner said...

Hi Kelly,

I didn't think your thoughts were random or scatter-brained. And if they were "sometimes contradictory," that's because the feelings of a debut author whose book has made a splash in the world are contradictory themselves.

I enjoyed BPOD very much. It's a complex world with an interesting protagonist. The single-mother angle interested me, but it was the story, world-building, and characterization that drew me in and held my interest.

Just wanted to sympathize and say that I'm glad you could find your way back to the story you want to tell.

Kelly Gay said...

Hi Nancy! Thanks for dropping by and for the nice words. :-) I'm sure you're experiencing all the roller coaster emotions that come with a debut as well, eh? How are you holding up? I got DEADTOWN last week, and can't wait to read it! The cover is even more gorgeous in person.

Nancy Holzner said...

I felt lucky to come across your post because I was having one of those days, myself. Yeah, "roller coaster" describes it just about right. (And I used to be the one who stayed off the ride and held everyone else's stuff because I'd get queasy if I went on LOL). But it's all good. :)

Anyway, I really appreciate that you shared your thoughts on the issue.

Corrie said...

It's difficult to live up to others' expectations... and I learned a long time ago that we can't please everyone (even- or maybe especially-those whose opinions mean the most to us). You show a good deal of self-reliance to be able to shift those expectations off to the side and just write. I think we've all seen evidence when authors aren't able to do that (you know, when you read a sequel or the next in the series and it just doesn't have the oomph that you know that author is capable of delivering). I sincerely believe that happens when a talented author forgets the most important audience... her muse.

And you thought that YOU had a talent for rambling....

Jax Cassidy said...

Sorry to hear about your friend's feedback. It hurts but from what I've seen BPOD is kicking butt so if it didn't resonate with others, you wouldn't have so much buzz going on. You're awesome! So just remember that.

Well, I stopped investing too much emotions into bad reviews. I understand not everyone will love my writing, but I'm like you, I write the story I love and if someone enjoys it--that's what really matter to me. Reviews are subjective and if you get a reviewer who came across your book on a bad day, they don't always judge the story fairly. It's also about taste so what some people love about your h/h, others may loathe. I guess it helps to have a thick skin because when you get those fan emails, it really is what counts.

Kelly Gay said...

You gals are *awesome*. Thanks for posting. :-)