Nathan Bransford's post on never judging a book by what we think it should be, but by what the writer clearly intended. There seems to be two sides of a coin when it comes to writing and reading: what we want and what we actually get.
When we read a book, we carry certain expectations, and if those expectations aren't met, no matter how small, we usually come away from the book disappointed. If the writer exceeds our expectations, we usually love the book and leave some sort of raving review with our husband or spouse or mom or on our blog. My husband happens to be a reader who carries very low expectations for movies and books, so even though something might be truly bad, he doesn't get upset about it. He takes it for what it is and bases his judgment against the product itself, not some ideal standard he had in his head. Because of this, I think he enjoys more creative things than I do, and he's happier for it...instead of me who walks around criticizing everything left and right.
When we write a story, most of us have expectations of what the story should be by the time we finish. I read several posts yesterday that held a running theme: I HATE MY BOOK. I think we all get this feeling at some point if we're working on a novel. But why do we hate our work? Because it's not cooperating? Because it's not measuring up to that ideal we set up in the first place? I know Scott is currently rewriting one of his books because the first drafts didn't measure up to what he had planned to do.
I've rewritten books before. From scratch. Because of this. It sucks.
However, on my last huge project, I promised myself not to rewrite anything. I promised myself not to let more than a few select people beta read the book. I promised myself to let the book be what it would be instead of trying to force it into a corner and make it behave. When I did this, truly amazing things happened and I ended up with a final product that pleases me more than almost everything else I've written.
Also, lately, I've been reading different genres. I've picked up YA books I never would have picked up before. I've read science fiction and fantasy instead of just literary classics I never got to read in college. I've let myself enjoy more things. I've let go of what I think I want and allowed myself to celebrate things as they are. I've stopped being so damn uptight about things, and I'm happier with my creativity. Much happier.
Do you suffer from this type of thing?
If you haven't already, you should go check out Livia Blackburn's post about The Vulcan Mind Meld. Well, her post isn't actually titled that, but it's about how storytellers force their brain activity on their audience. Yes, very cool. I was going to do a post all about this, but Livia pretty much said it all.