Whenever someone comments on a book I’ve written or read, and comments on how this or that didn’t meet their expectations, I wonder whether they realize the books are rarely written for any single reader in mind. They might be written for the more general idea of “readers,” but most often—at least I hope so—they’re written for the author, because the stories just need to get out.
I’ve often gotten comments about writing females that are either “surprisingly nice” or “total bitches.” I’ve also had people say there was a male character who was a total shit in the story, and other comments that say another male character was really well written and surprisingly nice.
I have no clue why any of that should be surprising. Why? Because while I write fiction, I try to keep it realistic to a point. In real life, ALL WOMEN AREN’T BITCHES and ALL MEN ARE NOT ASSHOLES. Yes, there are both in this world, everyone knows someone like that, but those can’t be the only kind of people we write. Not even when that bitch you still hate like nobody else wants to end up as a character in your book.
People have different views and different experiences in life. Everyone looks at what they read or watch or even write from their own, more or less narrow view. Sometimes something an author has written in a book upsets or even insults them. Like my dear friend Anna Martin says, in that case the only thing for the author to do is to say “I’m sorry.”
I’d add that the next thing is to move on and hope the reader can deal, because while authors have to take responsibility over what they write, we don’t always get to choose what we write. The muses don’t work that way. But a reader ALWAYS has the choice of what to read. They have the choice of not picking up another book of an author whose work upset or insulted them, ever again. Or even if they just plain disliked someone’s book.
Another thing that recently came up for me personally was a review I happened to see. It was something I’d seen before, and it went a little bit like this: “I had the same problem with this book I have had with other books by Tia Fielding before.” I won’t even mention what the problem was, specifically. I don’t have to, to make my point. This boils down to the previous paragraph in my ramble: a reader never HAS TO read another book by author they don’t like or they had been disappointed with.
If I didn’t like, say Nutella, but kept trying it over and over again and telling people left and right now I STILL don’t like Nutella, wouldn’t they think I’m nuts? (Pun not intended.) Seriously? There’s a quote of unclear origins that fits this example to a T.
Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.
In the case of a reader leaving low rating reviews over and over again (and a handful of other readers doing the same thing) it might actually lead to drops in average ratings and then low sales for an author who only wrote what their muse and his/her wicked plot bunnies dictated them to.
I also bumped into this thing today: coming out or not coming out in books (or in real life). Now there are readers and authors alike who might try to take the high road on their high horse and claim that it’s wrong for a character in a book to NOT come out. Like choosing to be closeted might be a Bad Thing.
I firmly believe in choice and responsibility, and I believe in them in that exact order. Would I write a story about someone who from the beginning to the end of the book abuses a spouse with clear conscience and makes it into a good thing? No, because that’s plain wrong in all sort of ways I also find WRONG outside my writing. I wouldn’t go against my own beliefs in my writing and show it in a good light. That’s my artist’s integrity speaking, and my integrity as a person.
Coming out is different. There is no right answer to whether someone should come out or not, and this goes with both fiction and real life. Whenever someone screams that this or that celebrity should just come out already to support the GLBTQ community, I look at them blankly. Yes, I think it would benefit the community, but you do not make those decisions for someone else.
Coming out, whether you’ve had to do it or not yourself, whether you had positive or negative results yourself, is yours only when YOU are the one coming out in YOUR personal life.
You, whoever you are, do NOT own the coming out process of someone else, real or fictional. I can’t stress this enough, really. As someone who has had to come out in real life, the thought of someone dictating another person’s truth is just insane to me.
Everything about coming out is about truth. You might see not coming out as lying, and frankly I don’t give a shit if you do or if you think it’s detrimental to the GLBTQ community, because it’s someone else’s truth, and sometimes it’s better to lie to protect yourself or those around you. The reasons are as many as there are people in the closet or out in the open. But they’re not your reasons.
Okay, today’s rant is done. Finally. I hope you’re having a nice time-of-the-year wherever you are, and please do stay tuned to my blog, because I have a fun little thing (weird author interviews is the most accurate way to describe it all) coming up in the near future in weekly posts.