Today's gloves-off blow to a writer's ego is aimed squarely between my own eyes. In case you don't still have the original list of initial lies we tell ourselves memories, here's how I phrased this one:
If people don't understand what we've written, it's just because our writing is too artistic and intellectual.
Oh my goodness, that one's soooooooo tempting. And sooooooo wrong. There are few things more satisfying than being able to tell yourself that your literary story was not accepted, because they just couldn't track your arch high symbolism, the artistic swerve you laid down, or the true power hidden within your deceptively simple words.
Sorry, folks. Sorry, Nevets. You're a writer. That means that your medium of expression is communication. Yes, there may be times when a particular reader or two just don't click with your stuff, but if general readership doesn't "get" your writing, it's your fault. You're doing a bad job. Why? Because you're the one writing it. It's your responsibility to make sure the reader can walk away from your story with what you want them to.
One the most influential moments in my development was a writer was in the early 90's. I had CompuServe at the time, which was an on-line service provider and did not yet provide regular access to the Internet. There was no web yet. But I took it on myself to search the CompuServe directory for people I might want to reach out to as a young writer.
I sent a note to award-winning science fiction author Vonda McIntyre. I don't remember at all what I wrote, but I do know I was surprised to get a reply back from her. Somehow, what I had said to her touched on this topic -- something about writing just what I want, and who cares if other people even see it, let alone like it, let along understand it. She described her approach to writing to me as being akin to a storyteller of old, and that if there was no one listening, she wasn't really doing her job, wasn't really doing what she wanted to do. Storytellers didn't just amuse themselves. They captivated their audiences.
What that means to me personally has changed over the years, but one thing it continues to bring home is that we are communicators. If people are confused by what I write, then I need to resist the temptation to hold myself aloof from them. I need to be a better communicator, and a better writer.
What do you guys think? You ever wrestle with this?
By the way, if you've missed previous installments of Tactless Tuesday, you can click here to see the list.