December 11, 2013

Subjectivity.

I've devoted a post to this word before, but after the insanity that is #PitchWars, I thought it might be helpful to offer a little refresher.

Here goes.

What's your favorite movie of all time? WRONG. It's Tombstone.
I don't understand why Starbucks sells hot chocolate.
I can't believe some people actually think Mockingjay made any sense at all in relation to The Hunger Games and Catching Fire.
NFL Football is stupid. It should just stop after college.
Fall is the best season. Summer is too hot. Winter is too cold. And spring is just annoyingly indecisive.
Dogs are great, but cats are better.

So. If you disagree with any of the above sentences, does that make you WRONG? (I mean, aside from  number 1, of course. Because, obviously.) Since I only order coffee from Starbucks, or hated what Suzanne Collins did to Peeta in Mockingjay and couldn't stand the decisions Katniss made because THEY MADE NO SENSE, or think that the whole world should permanently be 70 degrees with orange-leafed trees year-round….does that mean that hot chocolate, Mockingjay, and all other seasons should cease to exist?

NFL football has millions of fans. (I have no idea why, because its rules are stupid and the teams are no fun and there's no excitement of a new freshman class and and and…) Plenty of people hate cats. There might even be like, one person, maybe, who doesn't think Tombstone is a good movie.

Just because I personally prefer one thing over another doesn't mean that every one else feels that way. It also doesn't mean that everyone who disagrees with me is wrong. Our tastes are just different. And that is OKAY.

Two people read the same book. One of them writes a glowing review, fangirls over the author, and writes poetry in the book's honor. The other uses the book as a doorstop and preaches its plot failures to everyone that will listen. Neither of them is wrong, and neither of them is right. Or they're both wrong and they're both right. Regardless- we all get to have our opinions.

You KNOW these things.

The trouble is, now something you've created is the subject of this subjectivity. There's no guarantee that everyone will love our books. We can't even hope that everyone will LIKE our books. It's a really difficult thing that we all have to find our own ways of dealing with--but the most important thing is to remember, this isn't about YOU as a person. You created something. You put it out in the world. People will respond to it however they like, based on their own personal preferences and experiences.

All we really have control over in this entire process is the product we create--we craft it, we send it out to critique partners and beta readers, we hear the feedback, we make the changes that we feel are necessary, and when we are sure that it's ready, we let it go and hope for the best. After that, the reader--whether s/he's a judge in a contest or a literary agent or an editor or Reader McSweetface at the book store--gets to form his or her own opinions about it. That's the way it works.

You can't be arrogant enough to believe that your book is above subjectivity. You're going to have your haters. You're going to have your fans. There's a tendency to forget all the positive feedback in light of a few negative comments--but don't judge your book's worth (or your own) on something as fickle as someone else's opinion. Let the readers do their job and you do yours. Keep working. Write the next book. Gain more fans and haters. Repeat.

Isn't it pretty amazing that you wrote a book and people are reading it and forming opinions on it?









1 comment:

  1. One of the things that I look forward to getting out of PitchWars is the constructive feedback. Every rejection I have received has been so stinkin' nice. haha
    Each agent says the rejection is due to subjectivity and reminded me to not give up. None of them have given me more than that. I can't help but wonder if there is more, but they are just too kind to say. This is has been the thought fueling my self doubt. I can fix problems with the writing but I can't influence taste. Thank you so much for your positive review of my query because I also wondered at what point I lost the agents... Query? First pages? Unlikable MC?
    Maybe it is just subjectivity.
    Thanks for your post!

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