I Like It. She Doesn’t.

Not long ago I mentioned that I don’t choose books based on reviews. What one reader likes in a story isn’t always what satisfies another. Do you ever wonder why that is? Why one agent passes on a manuscript because it doesn’t ignite a spark, and yet another agent will become a passionate advocate of the same story?

Some years ago I designed a small stained glass piece for a church group in Port Alberni — a fish symbol suspended on the diagonal midway between the indigo of sky and ocean, and the green of land. Deciding on exactly the right colours wasn’t easy. Depending on where it would hang (south-facing window, on a wall, in a dark alcove, etc.), the light would affect the perception of its colours.

A Benedictine monastery near where I live provides a worshipful environment enhanced by the effect of unusual stained glass windows. The chapel is circular, and the colours of the glass gradually change from one window to another around the perimeter. Depending on the time of day and location of the sun, the light infusing the chapel glows with different hues.

It’s only my opinion, but my heart tells me that each individual sees the intensity of colour differently, according to where they stand in a room. Each feels degrees of emotion in relation to their own experiences. Each receives an author’s words into the unique arena of their own preferences.

One person likes our writing. Another doesn’t. It’s nothing personal. Then again, it’s all about personal taste and individual choice. It’s true in stained glass, in all forms of art, so why not in writing?


~

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14 thoughts on “I Like It. She Doesn’t.

  1. Judith Robl says:

    Love the glass analogy. Two daughters, my husband and I all work with glass. Its properties sometimes seem magical. And the light does make all the difference.

    Isn’t that true of people as well? The Light of the World makes all the difference in how we see people and how people see us.

  2. Katt says:

    Carol,
    In my opinion (:D) this is one of the best writing blogs you have written. I think everyone should read this blog—because we all need to remember, just as you stated, it’s a personal opinion. How many times was J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter) rejected? Hundreds! And most of the authors we know were NOT published the first time they submitted a manuscript——-
    This is a great blog of inspiration and hope. Not to mention the beautiful stained glass windows—and I love the analogy—-which is also true of life. Sometimes we only need to wait a little while before everything (colors) change—-
    Thanks Carol—-you ROCK
    Love ya’
    Katt

  3. Carol, thank you for a beautiful post. I love the way your mind works. Have a great day :)

  4. elderfox says:

    I know that my DD has different ideas about colors than I do, and often a different taste in books. I find an authors “voice” can also make a difference in the matter of choice for publication and/or reading.
    The stained glass windows at the Monastery are beautiful! And you know how many times I’ve delighted in the colors you’ve chosen for your home(s) over the years. I think you are right re “choosing”, which is probably why we are often told to select our reading from particuliar “houses/editors” expecially when it comes to genre.

  5. Shari Green says:

    Funny contrast, isn’t it, how having our work rejected or disliked by someone is nothing personal and yet completely personal. ;) Every reader brings her own tastes, experiences, beliefs, and expectations to a story (and the writer has no control over these things), so each reader in effect gets a slightly different story. And one may love it while another hates it. (As an offside: we must remember we’re writing for the one who will love it!)

  6. I agree with you entirely. We all have our personal tastes and we write from that platform. Others read the pages, each from a personal point of view, liking, or not, the content, based on personal preferences. This accounts for readers having favorite authors. Blessings to you, Carol…

  7. Laura Best says:

    Totally in agreement that we all have different tastes, that includes editors. I sometimes wonder if editors forget this. Do they think a story isn’t publishable simply because they don’t like it? They obviously have what they believe to be valid reasons for turning down a story. But that’s trying to get into someone else’s head. Isn’t it? I guess the thing to keep in mind is that when rejection hits we have to try and take it in stride and keep sending that story out.

  8. Ev Bishop says:

    What a gorgeous way to explain and show this fundamental truth: “each individual sees . . . according to where they stand.”

    Thank you for sharing your insight (and the pictures).

    p.s. Do you still work with stained glass?

  9. joylene says:

    I had my heart broke when I was 13, and of course, I was sure I’d never recover. My mother tried to explain to me then that people were different and those differences made the world go round. I don’t like yellow except when it comes to the sun. But someone else loves yellow and thinks I’m nuts for not loving it. It doesn’t mean either one of us are right. Just different. Love the analogy, Carol.

  10. I’m glad this analogy resonated with so many of you. Thanks for all your comments. Ev asked if I “still work with stained glass,” but that was really only a designing experience, and a one time thing at that. I took a series of classes, and each class explored a different art form. I have a batik from another class that I’ll have to find a way to share sometime as another analogy.

  11. Rebecca says:

    I completely agree. I review books because I like to read them, but I don’t put much stock in book reviews. Now, recommendations from a friend whose tastes are similar to mine? I always take those!

  12. First time reading this ,and I am sharing it on my face book page.Thanks for re posting this. carla

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