Yesterday, above the romp with wonderful questions, I posted a little quote about critics. I like it. In fact, I like it so much, I'm going to re post it here:
"A critic can only review the book he has read, not the one which the writer wrote." ~ Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960
I read a lot of quotes. I collect them. Some may say I'm addicted to them. I don't deny it. My quote infatuation began when I started learning calligraphy. I found other's words far more beautiful than my own. This quote, however, really stuck with me. We hear all the time about how rejection will come, how to cope with it. How some writer's wallpaper their walls with them, how some of them burn them with much pomp and circumstance. I've thought about keeping them for posterity, in case, after I'm a multi-best selling author, one of my "rejectors" ever asks me at a fancy cocktail party why I didn't contact them. I can show them I did. With a smile, of course :)
It's interesting to think that our words, which mean so much to us, may not mean as much to someone else. In fact, they may mean nothing. Or, and this is stranger still, they may mean something else entirely. Something we never planned for them to mean. Everyone takes from a work of literature what they bring to it. We have life experiences that are unique, we have personal and private battles that travel with us, even in the land on the other side of dreams. We have wounds and joys that alter our perception of things. And, here's the kicker, so do our readers.
I like to think that people will be encouraged by my writing. That they will lose themselves in another world and emerge with a greater sense of self worth. That's the goal I create for all my characters. I've always loved stories where the MC is a little on the low self esteem side, without friends or any noticeable talents. It's fun to pluck them from their humdrum existence and put them somewhere where, suddenly, they have what everyone needs! Or, what everyone thinks they need. The MC is frightened, mad, confused, hurt, angry. They want to run and hide and pretend it's not happening. That the end of the world will not be imminent if they throw it all away and go back to what was boring, yes, but comfortable at least. They don't want to hurt anymore, they don't want the weight of the world on their shoulders. They never asked for it!
How often do we feel that way? Most of the time, I'm sure. I want my readers to know they are not alone. That someone understands. And my job is to do all I can to make that happen. To the best of my ability. But once the story leaves my hands and travels to the hands of an agent or an editor, I have no control over what they take from it.
Now those are two words we don't like seeing together. I think that's why writing is such a stressful and emotional occupation. We control the universe on paper but once it's submitted, it's out of our hands. We must trust we've done our best to communicate. And we must trust our readers to understand that which we are trying to say. However, there will be those who don't "get" it. Who aren't there yet or who have already passed by. They'll reject our words. And that's okay. Yes, you read that correctly: it's okay.
If you've done your job, your best, and your story is told as it needs to be. If, as Madeleine L'Engle said, you have "served the call" to the best of your ability, then your story will find a home. It will reach those who need to be reached. The hardest part of this is finding those people. And the waiting that comes along with the hunting.
Don't give up, do your best, and write your heart out!