Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Summertime Guest Bloggin'

Giles Hash of High Aspirations is out of town this month, and he asked me to write a guest post for his blog to keep his readers entertained while he is away. You can check it out HERE.

And while you're over there, you should mosey through the rest of Giles' blog! It's full of good, writerly advice and camaraderie.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Subjective is Not a Dirty Word

What do you suppose you'd call it when you say something for your own benefit as much as for whomever you're talking to? Not 'preaching to the choir,' surely. Preaching to the pastor? Or maybe just 'talking to yourself"...

Right. Anyway. Today I'm talking to my choir-pastor self, as well as to you, so I hope one of us gets something out of it.

I'm a big fan of quotes. I love the sources quotes come from, too, but there's something about isolating a little snippet of wisdom or humor or profoundness from the midst of a work I love that really gives me a thrill. (I know... I'm pretty easy to thrill. Skydiving would probably kill me.) This is undoubtedly the reason I bumbled my way into a side-business based exclusively on the painting of quotes upon ceramic coffee mugs. (Incidentally, you could win one of my mugs if you enter the contest Freelance Writing Jobs is holding for the next two days. Just go to this link, and read and follow the instructions posted.)

An unexpected but surprisingly rewarding source for new quotes has, for me, been Pinterest. Today I discovered this one:


Edmund Wilson was a literary critic and writer in the 1920's, and influenced a lot of important writing minds. And I think his statement really drives home the reality of, not just the subjective nature of the publishing industry, but that of reading itself. Everyone who has ever submitted anything to anyone has probably read the words, "Given how subjective this business is," which can very quickly turn into one of the nastiest sentences in the English language. But it really shouldn't be. Because what it means is, "Just because I didn't love it does not mean that someone else won't." Or, "Keep sending this out, because someone out there will be a perfect fit for it."

I have, on several occasions, recommended a book to a friend or family member with the highest praise imaginable, only to have said friend or family member read--and positively hate--the book I loved. I invariably become hurt and defensive when I hear their reactions, because, to me, the book is like a child who can do no wrong. If I loved it, why on earth didn't you?

Well. Because we're different people. Because reading is subjective. And because "no two persons ever read the same book."

And what a relief that is! As much as we may be inclined to gnash our teeth at the words "subjective business," I think we really ought to be rejoicing. Because that means there is still hope. Even though it would be wonderful to write things that everyone in the world would adore, the fact is that people are too different for that kind of a miracle to be possible.

As Dumbledore tells Hagrid in Goblet of Fire, "Really Hagrid, if you are holding out for universal popularity, I'm afraid you will be in this cabin for a very long time."

Mind-boggling as it is, there are even people on this earth who don't like Harry Potter. And if that doesn't drive home Wilson's point, I don't know what will.

Thoughts? This didn't turn out quite as flippant and lighthearted as I meant it to, but what can you do? Maybe I'll devote my next post to a series of haikus enumerating the glories of David Tennant's freckles.