October 9, 2013

Someone will always like what we write

Dear M,

As writers, one of our greatest fears is that no one will like what we write.

After all the pain we have gone through to complete writing and editing and getting it published, what if every review we get is bad, what if every rating is poor? What if people hate our stories?

The good news is that there will always be a set of people who like our writing, for the style or the plot or the characters or the overall feel - apart from friends and family of course. (Friends and family will always like our books and blogs and articles, that's understood.) But there will be a handful of people who think what we wrote is funny or amazing or exciting. And they will recommend our book/blog to others.

More often than not, that is not enough for us, but for a start that sounds good, right?

But look at all the famous writers of the world. Do you think everyone likes their writing? Take Hemingway. Take Dostoevsky. Take Tolstoy. Take Kafka. Take Margaret Atwood. Take Garcia Marquez. Take Rushdie. Take Ray Bradbury. Take R. K. Narayan. Take Camus. Take Anita Desai. Take J.K.Rowling.
Take anyone else.

I will tell you what I have often overheard people say.
Dostoevsky's books are slow going and sleepy, I had started reading one two years ago, and now I have reached page 50.
Tolstoy? Who reads unabridged versions of Tolstoy's works? Don't even think about it.
Hemingway? What in the world is the man talking about in his stories? Why can't he just say things upfront?
Garcia Marquez? No, thank you. It takes one hundred years of solitude to read his books.
Anita Desai? Long and Boring narratives.
R.K.Narayan? Too simple.
Camus? Is he human?
Rushdie? Who reads his books, anyway? They sell for mere controversial value.
Rowling? No substance in her writing.
And so on.

There is no author in this world - I repeat, no author in this world, best-selling or otherwise - whom all readers appreciate in equal measure. Either their books are too heavy or they are too light. Either they are too funny or they are too serious. Either they are too fantastic or they are too science-fictionish. Either too long or too quick. Either too intelligent or too silly.

If all these famous authors, Booker winners, Pulitzer Winners, Nobel winners, Sahitya Academy Winners, Best-sellers, who have stretched their writing to all possible extremes and experimented with all kinds of prose styles cannot be well-liked by the entire world, how can we expect new writers such as us to be?

So our expectation is wrong. As soon as we clear that part, handling the reviews and ratings become easy.

The writing lives in the reader's eyes. And each reader has a unique eye. There will be some folks who will like what we write. They may not like the next one we write. Period.


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  1. Good analysis. It gives me courage to think of writing.

    1. Glad to know this inspired you. Thanks for visiting!