Monday’s Musings: Approval

Sometimes we writers (and other artistic types) are annoyingly needy when it comes to affirmation. We create a work for our own pleasure, but aren’t content to keep it to ourselves; we want to share it with others. Not so much for the enjoyment of others, but so those others can tell us how much they love it. And if they don’t love it, we’re offended.

Well, la dee da! Not everyone likes the same thing, you know. There’s no reason to take it personally if someone doesn’t happen to appreciate the way I string words together.

That’s one dimension of the writing life. Another is related: book sales.  If we write for profit (and there’s nothing wrong with earning a living), we need people to like our writing enough to pay money for it. This brings us to the necessity of marketing and promotion.

Today, I’ll focus on one small aspect of that: reviews.

I recently received four new reviews of The Story in the Stars. All four readers liked the book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the first three raves – of course! Everybody loves praise! But when I got to the fourth, my grin faded a bit. Here’s what it said:

I was conflicted while reading this novel… On one hand the book was fantastic – terrific writing and a plot that pulled me in right from the start and didn’t let go until the very end. But on the other hand, there were times where I felt that the author’s attempt to push her religious manage spoke louder than the story, and I feel was a tad heavy handed at times. I would have preferred more subtlety – more nuances. Let the reader come to the conclusion ourselves without it constantly being spoon fed to us. But fortunately I only felt this is a few places, and other than that I really thought this to be an amazing book and I can’t wait to read the next one, “Words in the Wind”!

It’s a four-star rating (which is good!), and primarily positive. But (I say with my lip protruding in a pout) it’s not all positive!

I’m not sure, precisely, what the reviewer meant by “religious manage,” but I do get the point: (s)he didn’t like the gospel message being made so plain.

I’ve gone on record as saying the story should carry the message rather than vice versa; also, that subtlety can speak louder than shouting. Did I go against my own advice with this story? The reviewer might very well have a valid objection.

But the foundational premise of the book is that when God created the heavens and the earth, He “wrote” the gospel message in the constellations for ancient man to “read.” That’s the “story in the stars” the title refers to. So the book should, I’d think, specify the message the constellations are said to proclaim.

But you can’t please everybody. I won’t try to justify myself to the reviewer, or say (s)he is wrong, or feel persecuted because of his/her objections. I’ll just say that I wrote what I wrote, realizing not everyone will like it.

The apostle Paul, who met with far more vehemence against the message than I ever will, famously said (my paraphrase), I’m not ashamed of the gospel; it’s the power of God for the salvation of all who believe it.

Not everyone will believe it. But it’s a story worth telling. I should be ashamed if the message didn’t come through!

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