Thursday, June 21, 2007

With friends like these...

I got an email from a good friend of mine today who just finished reading the entire first draft of Crimson Swarm. (You know who you are.) From conversations we've had in the past, I had the idea that he might not like the direction I took at the end, so I told him if he was totally disappointed in the ending let me know. His response, "I can't say I'm totally disappointed in the ending. I'm only largely disappointed."

Now for a very short moment, less than ten seconds, I was crushed. This is not the kind of thing you want to hear. But, it didn't take me long to be grateful for a friend like this. What would have annoyed me more is if he gushed all over it, and I knew he wasn't being totally honest. (something this friend would never do, one of the reasons I respect him.)

For those of you who don't know me from Adam, I am a graphic designer. I don't really consider myself an Artist. I went to art school, and did pretty good. But in my school there was a raging debate between the Fine Artists, and the Graphic Designers. You know the old story, what we do isn't art. Well, I agree. What we do is sell a product. Whatever that product is. We may be every bit as talented as the guy whose work is hanging in the Museum of Modern Art, but that is not where we took our lives. I just didn't have it in me to spend countless years trying to make a name for myself in the art scene, when I could make a decent living selling other people's stuff. But one of the big downsides to the graphic design side of things is you are not your own boss. You can't decide that everything you do is going to be blue, because blue doesn't sell alfalfa sprouts. Green does. Most jobs you've got several people telling you what to do. Change this color, make this font bigger, crop this photo differently, etc... It can get darn frustrating. Many, if not most times the end product is not as good as it should have been because the client had to have it their way (even though they hired me because I was the professional).

What the heck does this have to do with getting "I'm largely disappointed" emails from a friend about my ending. Everything.

When I set out to write a book, I didn't do it to fulfil some inner muse. I didn't do it because I wanted to create a work of literature to be debated in academia. I set out to write a book that people would like. One that people would want to read. Maybe I'm a sell out. I know lots of people in Art School would have said that. But I have a great job doing what I love to do. I've provided for my family for years, allowing my wife to stay home with the kids when she wanted to. And now I'm having the time of my life writing a novel, about something I love, and I have every expectation that when it is done, there will be others that love it too.

This is not to say that I'm going to just ditch my ending and totally change it because of one good friend's comments. But I am going to seriously consider his thoughts. And I look forward to sitting down and really digging into it with him.

Kristin Nelson had a great post on her blog today that really got right to the point. "How Honest Do You Want Us To Be?" She asked this question about how to respond to writers when they are looking for a critique of their work. My answer, "Bring it on."

No comments: