Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Art That Makes You Feel

Sondheim once said "art isn't easy..." and that is so true no matter what art form you work in. 

My book Well With My Soul came out last October and continues to find a new audience as more people discover the book. Even while talking of my latest release this week, it is what people are saying of that debut novel that has me thinking today. I've always said you want to evoke a response in your writing. You want to make people think, talk, question. And in a way...I feel I'm achieving that and it makes me very pleased. Even when those discussions are around questioning why I would write such a book in the first place (including those 1 star reviews I get on Amazon).

I would link directly to a recent review except they gave away too much of the 'shock' in the story (but if you've read it, contact me and I'll share it with you). That review sparked a debate that has really got me thinking about how we write and what we write. In this instance, I wonder if there is a generation gap happening that I never thought would occur. I look at the younger generation as the open-minded, risk-takers...but it also seems perhaps some don't quite understand what gay men went through early on that had to live a closeted life. That people choose all sorts of ways throughout history to deal with homophobia (even though today we see the term "pray away the gay" in the media). 

As a fiction author, I am not always expressing my own opinions in my work. It's one of the reasons I love to write fiction: to get into the head of others. To think in a different way. Respond to situations in a manner that Greg wouldn't. But many times, we may be misunderstood, misinterpreted, misrepresented - and that is all part of being an author.

On the flip side with this exact same story, I received an email from someone I went to high school with. An avid reader. A teacher. A Christian. This book that deals with sexuality and religion really made her think about what the Bible says and her own feelings towards wishing for two gay men to stay together surprised her. That is the hope I have in writing as I do. The reason I write stories that may not always turn the way you expect. She thanked me for writing the book and said she can't wait to read my next. 


And even the younger reviewer (that actually said nice things about the book, but also felt it was full of homophobia) felt conflicted and disturbed by the story. And the fact the book is causing people to stop and question and spark debate: all completely worth it.

As an indie author, I only see a very small ripple effect of what I write 'getting' to others. I can only imagine if a big-time publisher had picked up my book and the controversy something like this book would have caused.

But art isn't easy. 

And I'm glad that it's not. 

3 comments:

  1. I love your perspective! It's making me think about how I should approach my next projects! Thank you for some food for thought!

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    1. Thanks, Jeff! Sometimes it's good to have that positive spin on what could be perceived as a negative. :-)

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    2. I think it's always good to turn that frown upside down. But, it's not always easy to do,especially after all the blood, sweat, tears and LOVE we put into our work. But it is necessary for our well being.

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