As part of my voluntary continuing education, I’m reading books by authors celebrated during the past century. Many of these authors won significant literary prizes. Most sold millions of copies of their books while they were still writing.
Yet, I only enjoy the work of some authors I’ve explored.
Perusing the shelves of my local used bookstore, I have read the back cover copy of an untold number of books. Usually, before making a purchase, I’ll open the volume of a selected author and see if the first few pages grab me.
When I think I’ll like a novel, only to find after reading a few chapters that I don’t enjoy the story, I’ll decide not to finish the book. Life is too short to force yourself to read a novel you don’t like. At least not once you’ve left high school and college. This ability to discard unloved stories is one privilege of being an adult.
On the flip side, I have discovered some authors I do like by reading novels I missed earlier. I’ve bought many an author’s backlist titles, often new in reprint, so at least heirs can enjoy the fruits of the labor of their famous ancestors.
Where do these observations leave you as a writer?
At one time or another during their careers, many writers receive rejections from editors who are honest enough to say something along the lines of, “This story didn’t resonate with me.” I’ve sent refusal letters with similar wording, admitting that this is a subjective opinion. I realize these rejections are aggravating, even if the author can appreciate candor.
And yet, some of these authors go on to win literary prizes and earn the adoration of legions of readers. Good for them! My taste isn’t everyone’s. I’ve known that for a long time.
Just as I am not every author’s reader, every editor may not be your reader. When negative responses to your work discourage you, continue to grow as a writer. Be encouraged by those who offer encouragement, and listen to them. Respect those who aren’t your readers. With this path, writers are sure to discover the readers who are theirs.