Why Somebody Is Certain to Hate Your Book–and How You Can
Deal With It
Anyone who doubts the subjective nature of art need look for persuasion no farther than Amazon’s review pages. For instance, Stephen R. Lawhead’s Hood received opinions varying from the effusive
Lawhead at his best.
Rip-roaring good story.
to the insistent
No real plot, resolution, or drama.
Slow, uninspired and pointless.
How could the same piece of writing inspire such wildly differing reactions? You have to wonder if these reviewers were even reading the same book!
The Subjectivity of Art
For better or worse, art (like life) is subjective. Not one of us looks at a story, a painting, a movie, or a concert in the same way. We each see the same structure; we each read the same words; but we all take something individual, and therefore indefinably precious, away from the encounter.
Experiencing art is like watching clouds. Two people can lie on the same grassy hill, watching the same cloud formations. But how they interpret the shapes of the clouds is an entirely individual experience. You may see a poodle on a leash, while in the same cloud, I see a drag race.
Part of the magic of the artistic experience is its endless evolution. It is never static. Even once the writer has put the final touch on his piece, it continues to live and morph and grow through the experiences of the reader. When we hand our writing over to others, we’re unavoidably surrendering our control over it. We can’t sit at the reader’s shoulder and dictate how he envisions our characters or how he reacts to the themes.
If we could, it would largely defeat the point of art, not to mention the enjoyment.
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