Since it’s Samhain this week, I thought we should stick with the horror theme, and chat about how we authors (and most artists, really) end up living through a bit of a slasher film every time we release something out into the world that we’ve created.
Our baby book flies out of the nest and we wave goodbye, tearfully, hoping it will be cared for by those that give it notice. And while most onlookers are supportive and thoughtful in their evaluation of the art, written or otherwise, there are barbs—and ax-wielding monsters, as well as flesh-eating worms.
“DNF” (or Did Not Finish) is probably one of the saddest demises of a book. It’s like death by poison. All that blood, sweat, and tears and they couldn’t even bear to look at it anymore.
“I can’t say enough about how awful this is” could be seen as death by a thousand cuts, as the reader goes into depth about how far off you are from quality. They poke fun, quoting and guffawing, as they wonder aloud how such drivel ever found its way into print. Beware: you have entered the Forest of So Lame.
And then there is the one death where you realize the book has suddenly become more than just a book to the reader, and they’ve decided you, as a flesh and blood-born human, must be disgusting and/or deranged to have created it—and perhaps you should be tossed out of all civilized society, for good measure.
This one goes something like: “You have offended me greatly, and this-that-and-the-other-thing is why, you gross pond scum! I shall now create a hashtag of horror! #CheeseNeedsLoveToo.” It becomes the chainsaw finale in the writer’s mind, where you run through the trees of So Lame, screaming, because you are suddenly very sure you’ve offend the rest of the planet as well, and how could you!? What have you done?!?!
You spend the next few days/weeks stewing over the thought that maybe they’re right; “Did I really accidentally say all that offensive stuff about cheese in my book about grapes?!” *headdesk*
The trap here is that we focus so much on the man/woman/hydrobeast with the chainsaw and large fangs that we lose sight of the readers who cheer us on and fall in love with what we’ve created (which are usually more than the hand-full of nay-sayers out there). And isn’t that always the point: not to please everyone (which is impossible anyway), but to allow for a collected few to escape the world and enter the one you’ve created in your imagination? Artists long to share their vision, we aim to give joy and adventure to the masses. We want to open hearts and minds, urging people to think—not like we do, but to think for themselves.
However, that might be a lot to ask some people. So, as you bleed out all those hard-won words, be prepared for the chainsaws and the trees of Lameness Forest to be gunning for you. And be ready to ignore them all. Because the truth is, the only way to kill a monster in the world of art, is to imagine them out of existence.
Consider what the worst thing is that someone could say about your writing/art and write it on a piece of paper. There, now it’s been said. And look! You’re perfectly fine. Now anything else is a breeze. 😉 Write on, fearless warrior, write on!