If you read this blog yesterday, you'll know I did not enjoy the big screen adaptation of Les Miserables. I said what I liked and didn't like and I also acknowledged that many people will love the film. Some of my best friends, and people I admire, loved the film. How could this be?
Actually it's all subjective. What one person loves, another person hates. Or they're indifferent, which is really the death knell for art. Indifference. The role of art, and I mean this as in cinema, theatre, books, television, photography, or what we usually consider art: paintings, sculpture, etc.. is to invoke a feeling, or interest in a person. It's not just entertainment.
By hating (and I use that term loosely because there were parts I liked) Les Miserables, I felt immediately compelled to call my friend, Preetemdas, and tell him how much I hated it. I ran into a coworker at the grocery store and went on to tell him how much hated it. I even came home and blogged about it. It had me talking. In fact, I couldn't shut up. Like it or not, it did it's job.
In my novel, Postcards from the Desert, I have a character, Elsa, who is a blind artist. She makes paintings by using textures as well as colors. She explains to my protagonist how she sees a painting compared to what a sighted person sees. It's all a matter of perspective. We each bring our own set of baggage, feelings, prejudices and expectations to everything we experience. This is how one person can love The Fifty Shades of Grey and others can hate it. It's where we come from.
Several months ago, I gave a copy of Postcards to some beta readers. One is a writer who is published and has become a friend of mine through Facebook and Twitter. One was a relative. Two were fellow writers from my writer's group. One was an avid reader. When I got their feedback each of them had different things to say. One didn't think a certain part was believable, while another person completely bought it. One thought it was slow in one section, another loved the pace of that section. As a writer looking for feedback, this can be very confusing. What to leave in, what to leave out?
It has taken me several months and lots of trial and error on revising my novel but today it finally hit me. Everyone is going to view it differently. I'm not going to write a novel that everyone is going to love. Some will be angry about it. Some will love it. Some will love parts of it and be uncomfortable in other parts. Ultimately, like Elsa says, "I finally stopped painting for other people and started painting for me."
My revisions just got a whole lot easier. I can stop trying to make the story fit the audience and write the story that's true to my intentions. I hope others will read it, but after all, I'm writing this for me and my characters.