I am a sensitive writer. I play subtle emotional games with my characters, giving my stories twists based on each character’s unique perspective on life, love and being. As a narrator, I will misrepresent a situation based on the particular emotions of my characters.
What this means is that some of my best stories are perpetually misunderstood. There is no avoiding this, however, because only another sensitive person can comprehend the subtle machinations of a sensitive soul.
For example, I have a story entitled “Scoundrel,” which is a first person narration of a man who has been romantically involved with a woman for a period of time. She complains because he won’t commit himself emotionally to her and, after considerable soul searching and pain, he dumps her. She is devastated and he feels terrible. “I am a scoundrel,” is his conclusion.
Most people who have read this story and given me feedback have agreed with the conclusion – what a scum, leading the woman on and then dumping her when things get serious. They completely missed the point.
The narrator is a very sensitive man and takes love seriously. Although he likes the woman, he doesn’t love her. When he is certain this is true, he does the noble thing and tells her to move on. This is the opposite of being a scoundrel. But, because he is sensitive, he feels her pain. He is terribly sorry. He did his best and couldn’t get there. He feels terrible because she feels abused and so calls himself a scoundrel.
But that isn’t what a scoundrel is. If he had lied to her, kept on with the relationship, pretended he loved her, he would have been a scoundrel. Trying to love someone and failing is not being bad. Maybe he should have known better, but who are we to judge that? This is the portrait of a man being true to himself and the people he deals with. You don’t buy Sony when you want RCA.
So, when I get lots of positive feedback on a story, I have to discount it. People like stories they don’t understand. I don’t like for them to do that. Feedback, for me, becomes a negative.
As I said, I am a very sensitive writer. I don’t work well with feedback, positive or negative. I recently put a story on a website that collects stats. Three days later, after 4500 views, my story had been rated very positively. Today, I turned the feedback option off. It distracts me from my job of writing stories. Thinking about what people think about what I’m writing stops me from writing. I don’t want to know.
I wrote another story, brilliant from my point of view, that no one has ever liked. Called “The Romantic” it tells the jaded story of a musical legend who is always on tour, sleeps with groupies and cheats on his wife. Everything about his story is both glamorous and sad. What he calls “love” is anything but love. He’s a pathetic attention whore.
No wonder no one likes it. He’s a reprehensible character. But the title should clue everyone into what is going on. Yes, he is terrible and sad and lonely. But in order to keep going, he has to lie to himself in elaborate ways. He maintains an incredible facade of make-believe to keep himself from crashing and burning in a drug-filled depression. The beauty of the story is that this sad man has to create a fantasy to support himself. While we detest him, we feel sorry for him. He’s trying to work with his situation and that’s all he can do. He is not a hero. He is a tragic hero.
People read it and misunderstand my intention. I can’t step in and explain it to them. All I can do is wait for the one in a thousand readers who will get it. Negative feedback only tells me people don’t get it, because I know it is good, if they got it.
I can’t write sensitive stories without being sensitive myself. I won’t abide criticism on any level, even in the form of misguided positive feedback. So I stay sheltered and leave my emotions raw for the character analysis that fuels my next story.
Writing a good story, from my perspective, is all the feedback I need, thank you. So shhhhhh …