There is every accounting for taste
I didn’t like the latest movie version of Le Miserables, even though it will win 23 Oscars, including “Best Musical Number by an Aussie during a Suicide Plunge.”
I much preferred the 1978 version with Anthony Perkins. Because it was a TV movie, it wasn’t up for an Oscar. If it had been, it would have nailed “Best French Accent by that Guy Who Stabbed Janet Leigh in a Shower.” It was a pretty small field of nominees that year.
The 2012 version of Le Miz is a good movie. It just ain’t my cup of tea. The director of the latest Les Miserable shouldn’t care what I or anyone else thinks of his movie as long as he believes it is good—and he can still pay his mortgage on the Tuscan villa.
A year or so ago, when I was much younger and more unsure of myself, I equated the character of my writing with the feedback it received. Positive feedback foreshadowed my entrance into the pantheon of literary greats such as Edward Bulwer-Lytton and Paris “I wrote the title myself” Hilton.
More, um, ambivalent feedback nearly spurred me to give up writing in favor of stick-figure drawing. Nine people could react positively, yet one person could say “meh,” and I believed I had failed. Worse was when the story idea didn’t interest them enough to give the book a shot. What could I have done, I wondered, to lure or please that one reader? Or those ten, or one hundred, or one thousand readers?
Taste is a slippery creature which changes not only with each person, but within each person. I might watch the musical Les Miserable a year from now and love it (OK, a bad example). Some who like my writing one day may be left cold by it the next. What’s the point of worrying about what anybody thinks? (This is where I explain that was a rhetorical question.)
In the past year, I’ve re-learned that quality is a nebulous concept that means little in the creative arts. Personal taste is more important. To the individual, taste dictates quality. Otherwise, we would not have so many book genres and sub-genres, such as Dystopian Erotica, Cozy Eighteenth Century French Mysteries, Christian Romance with a touch of Horror Suspense, or Gay & Lesbian Family Saga. When someone says, “That’s a good book,” they mean “I like that book.” Unless they’re a book critic or a high school language arts teacher, they are not saying the sentence structure was superb, the grammar was impeccable, or the story arc was magnificently presented. They mean it affected them in a positive way.
That’s good enough for me, when and if it happens.
P.S. I have a few little books you might enjoy here.