Monday Musings: You can’t please me….

  My husband and I are buying a new couch.  You’re probably wondering how buying a couch even remotely relates to writing, but just go down this path with me for a moment.  You’ll catch up!

In the years since we moved into our house, we haven’t bothered to fix a purpose to our basement family room. It’s just sort of there, a room to walk through on the way to my office.  Recently, we decided it was time to update the room and uncover its functionality. We’re creating a media room slash reading room slash hanging out room slash game room….you know, an old fashioned, multi-purpose family room.

Duh! Why didn’t we think of this before?! 🙂

Finalizing the paint color on the walls was easy. The carpet was a no brainer because we’re leaving what’s already there.  We even had curtains stashed in a closet that are perfect for our needs.  Furniture, however, became the stumbling block to our entire vision. So, yesterday, we went window shopping in one of the biggest furniture warehouse outlets in our area.  After spending three hours dashing from couch to reclining chair to sectional we were getting pretty tired and frustrated.  Nothing quite fit our vision.

Just when we were ready to throw up our hands and call it a day, in the far back corner of the warehouse, we found the one.  It was the sectional “nest” we were looking for, literally the last one available, too. We were eager to find a salesman to seal the deal.  But it was getting late, the purchase was going to take time to finalize, and the dogs needed to be fed, so we decided to go home and buy it the next day.  This morning, we both woke up with hesitations.

The cost of everything these days is always a huge factor but, putting that aside, it was the function of the piece that kept coming up in this morning’s discussion.  It fit, but was it going to overpower the room?   How many people could we accommodate on it? Could we use it for extra sleeping in a crunch? Would so-and-so actually climb into the middle of it to watch a movie with us? Was the seating too intimate for company outside the family?

I won’t drag you through our entire conversation but the upshot is we decided it’s impossible to please everyone, the best we could do was accommodate our vision.  The same principle applies to writing.

“You can’t please me!”

Nothing blindsides a writer faster than reading a bad review that states unequivocally the heroine is TSTL (Too Stupid to Live), the hero isn’t sexy, or the plot sucks boulder-sized rocks. It’s almost as bad as seeing a reader trash our latest release on a favorite reader loop – even worse, on Amazon – saying it’s a waste of time and money to consider buying the book.  You know there will be readers who will take that evaluation to heart and not give the story a chance.

This knowledge rips into our psyche, our confidence, sometimes makes us second-guess our entire writing career. After all, when we sit down to write each day, our intent is to please every last “me” who picks up our novel.  It doesn’t matter if we’re a newbie writer or a seasoned professional with awards and book sales either. We all write and revise and critique and revise again until we’re satisfied we’ve done all we can to capture the story.

It’s unrealistic to think we can strike a chord with every reader that picks up our novel, but we can’t help but want that perfect relationship nonetheless.  Do we want all of our readers to know how hard we work to knock their socks off? Damn Skippy, we do! We can’t spend our entire career justifying our writing choices either.

Will everyone love everything I’ve written? I wish! Will it still hurt when a reader tells me my baby has big ears and a crooked nose? Absolutely.  The bottom line is building a thick skin is one of those critical writing skills I’ve been working hard to develop, right alongside writing the very best story I can, one that captures my vision.  With luck, a lot of readers will enjoy that vision too.

8 thoughts on “Monday Musings: You can’t please me….”

  1. Karen – I swear you are talking about me and the bad review I got a few weeks ago. It did devastate me. Why, when all the other reviews of the book were positive? I don’t know. But it did. I second and third guessed my career choice. Was I really good enough? Was this person right and I didn’t have what it takes to be a writer.

    My critique group, you included, reminded me that it’s just one review. That yes, there are probably things I could do to change the story, but I’m still not going to please everyone. All I can really do, is please myself.

    Thanks for reminding me and for being a great critique partner and friend.

  2. I think we all go through these thoughts quite often, Cindy. It wasn’t specifically directed at you. The idea was truly fed by my conversation with DH because, as you said in YOUR blog today, we are people pleasers and tend to try to please everyone. I was simply reminded that it’s not just in the writing field I do this.

    My critique group, you included :), often remind ME why I’m writing. So, the feeling’s mutual, hon.

  3. Karen, you said this perfectly! My first book doesn’t come out until March, but I’ve already thought about this and know, like everyone other writer out there, that I’m bound to get some people that don’t like it and give it a bad review. Ugh, so not looking forward to that. I know it’ll hurt, even though I tell myself exactly everything you said above.

    And you are right…you can’t please everyone, so please yourself!

    Love it and have a super day 🙂

  4. Morning, Christine! I haven’t published my book either and I’m not looking forward to that first bad review because, you can bet your bippy, there will be one sooner or later. (Hopefully later! :)) I think we get a taste of this rejection all along the way though. Every time someone in my critique group says something other than “this is brilliant!” my soul is scarred. Yeah, okay, maybe not scarred but you know what I mean. It’s what we expect and need from our critique partners anyway. It’s much better to be trashed by friends than the entire world! They help us to avoid stumbling over ourselves in public. I bless my critique group every day.

    I look forward to seeing your book come out. And when you do get that bad review — it helps to be realisitic — feel free to come here and share the pain.

    Hugs and have a great day! 🙂

  5. Karen, your insights are brilliant, as always. I’m still using your W plot method, which is the only thing that seems to work for me!
    I also felt you were echoing my own thoughts, as Cynthia mentions. After a lot of ruminating, I started my own publishing company in June and decided I was going indie eBook. But it was only after I sold a story to a Cleis Press anthology, coming out next year, that I decided I had the courage to go forward on my own. Sometimes you do really have to ignore naysayers, both before and after you publish. Even members of your own critique group can derail you if you’re not thick-skinned. My erotic romance was once called “trite and cliche” by a member of my former crit group. Continuing to write after that was difficult and starting my own indie publishing company was a risk, but to quote author Monica Burns, whose encouragement I got while a member of RWA, “You have to believe in yourself.” Well, I did. My first eShort came out last week and I’m thrilled. In fact, I’m guest blogging over at Frankie’s Soapbox today about the self-publishing process and working with vendors to make it happen professionally.
    Everyone needs to hear that you can’t please everyone and to realize that at the end of your life, when you look in the mirror, that person staring back is the only one you need to have pleased. If I’d listened to my critique group about an erotica short I wrote, I wouldn’t have sent it to editor Rachel Kramer Bussel, it wouldn’t be coming out in an anthology, and I would never have pursued the indie path. I’m glad I listened to my inner voice. Thanks for reminding us what’s important!

  6. Awww,Maureen. I think I’ll keep you! LOL I do depend on my wonderful critique partners tosee things I don’t. They don’t really trash me, just let me know when something doesn’t quite work. They’re almost always right. Then again, I don’t change things unless I agree. It’s my job to decide if I use something or not.

    Thanks for your kind words!

  7. Hi, Roxy! Good to see you again. I’m so glad the “W” works for you. I love it, too, but I’m partial.

    Every author needs to decide their career path so I applaud your confidence and decision to pursue yours your way. I’ve recently decided to publish my own work when I finish Killing Secrets by end of January…with luck and some focus. 🙂 Making my decision has actually freed up my writing because I’m now creating the story of my heart. I wish you the best of luck with your independence!

    Congratulations on your release. I hope you make lots of sales. Please stop by again someday soon and let me know how you’re doing. Have a great day!

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