Thursday, July 9, 2009

More things that bear repeating

I'd like to share some quotes with you:
"A grand and glorious film that may well be the smash hit of 1977, and certainly is the best movie of the year so far. " - TIME Magazine on Star Wars
"...there's no breather in the picture, no lyricism..." - Pauline Kael on Star Wars
"It is flawlessly crafted, intelligently constructed, strongly acted, and spellbinding...Movies like this are not merely difficult to make at all, but almost impossible to make well. The technical difficulties are so daunting that it's a wonder when the filmmakers are also able to bring the drama and history into proportion. I found myself convinced by both the story and the sad saga." - Roger Ebert on Titanic

"...the most dreadful piece of work I've ever seen in my entire life." - Robert Altman on Titanic
Words are powerful. They can draw so much emotion is so little time. When arranged in certain patterns, they evoke laughter or tears, inspire thought, and change minds. They can also cut deeper than the sharpest blade and leave behind magnificent scars.
If there is anything a writer should know about words, it's how to master them, and not allow them to consume you. This holds true especially for reviews and snark. You look at the above quotes on Titanic, and if I were to ask you what you'd see, perhaps you'd say two differing opinions by two experts. The renowned film critic loved the film, the respected director hated it. We know in which direction popular opinion swayed (It was two months before I could get a seat during the film's first run).
We see two experts telling us what they think, but at the end of the day they are just two men - two out of billions on the planet. You, as a writer, may feel the entire planet gangs up on you in the wake of a bad review or snarky comment, but it's no reason to let those words bother you to the point that you're unable to function.
So Robert Altman hated Titanic. Big deal. The film had the last laugh on him. You might think, well, certainly lots of people hated that movie - but look at the bigger picture (no pun intended). James Cameron still works, Kate Winslet still makes movies, life moves on.
You may also think, my book isn't Titanic. Perhaps not in the greater scheme of things, but isn't it Titanic to you? You put your heart and soul into your work, you should be proud to have accomplished something not many people get to do. Unlike the actual ship, you'll survive the journey if you take control and steel yourself against words designed to harm. Constructive criticism may be absorbed and considered, but snark for the sake of entertainment isn't constructive at all.
Know, too, it's impossible to make everybody in the world happy. I think the day that happens, it will have ended.

- Kathryn Lively


Jenna Byrnes said...

Nice thoughts to keep in mind. I often wonder why it feels like I'm killing myself sometimes, because I'm not writing War and Peace. But I've had some great reviews, and lots of nice reader comments, so I guess making people happy in my small way is a good thing to do, too.

Thanks for the inspirational post!

RobinSlick said...

Brilliant post and it comes at a time when I personally need it. Thanks for sharing.


Missy Lyons said...

This is good advice for a wriiter, even when you are stil seaching for a home fir your work. Many big name authors had their bestsellers refused, and I hear the stories from those publishers who regretted allowing a bestseller slip through their grasp.

When it comes down to it, everyone's opinion will vary and you can't write to please everyone.