Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Apparently, I'm the odd one out.
Apparently, most readers want to follow a character who they can identify with. One who shares flaws or fears with them. One who is like them in some ways.
I don't. When I read, I want to escape. If I wanted to be reminded of my own shit, I wouldn't be reading. I'd be pretending to deal with my own shit. The only trait I like to share with the characters is that of self-sufficiency or competence.
I read to escape. For a little voyeurism. To get into someone else's life, skin, and flaws. To get away from my own.
I've no interest in a story revolving around a teacher. I've watched some of those feel-good teacher-changes-the-world movies and they just leave me flat. I'm not likely to be changing the world. I will change individual lives and that's the best I hope for. I'll never get my motley crew of students to all ace the ACT (or Michigan Merit Exam) next go-round. Hell, I'm lucky if I can get them to read three whole novels in the course of a semester.
I don't want to read about failed relationships or people who only whine about their failed lives and poor choices. I want to read about action, adventure, mystery, and other people getting by in life. I prefer stories where people are doing at least okay in their lives, not fucking it up.
Now, either I just write it poorly, or what I write just doesn't go over with the average reader. I know that I'm not including these fatal flaws-- though Bo does have some pretty serious flaws-- but I also don't dump them out at the beginning of the book. It's not a massive bitch-fest about how horrible her life has been.
Like me, Bo has a tendency to focus on what she can and will deal with now. She doesn't spend much time lamenting what happened before. She focuses on the her work, current problems, and honestly, tries to avoid spending much time on things she can't deal with-- her past. Maybe this just doesn't (or hasn't) translated to the page well.
But I'm still getting feedback-- occasionally-- that deals with this issue. And I'm not sure how to reconcile it. Do I try to write is as people expect or do I hold fast to my vision of Bo. Do I write for readers or for myself. It's a tough choice. I'm still going to pretend I can do a little from column A and a little from column B.
And it may just mean it takes longer to get published. Good thing I have this cushy teaching job... oh, wait. There's nothing cushy about it. Damn.