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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Difficulties of Summaries and Criticism

Yesterday, my wife was asking about my book Blood 2: The Unforgiven. I've now come up with a maxim for one of my previous statements: "Whatever you don't think will get criticized, will get criticized". Kind of like Murphy's Law. She commented that the title didn't appeal to her. This was strange to me, because I've never thought of the story as anything BUT Blood 2: The Unforgiven. I can't imagine what else it would be. I can't imagine what else it could be. It's "The Unforgiven". That's the focus of the story. That's the motif, the main idea. The thread that binds the tapestry. I can't see anything that could change that. I just find it amusing that stuff I never think of is what gets the stinkeye.
But the other thing that astonished me was that I was really shy to come forward about anything in my book to her. I was hesitant to give her a title, hesitant to give her a summary. I'm not really sure why. I guess because, like a lot of writers, my identity is in my work, by extension. Thus, my work is my identity (this is why a lot of writers don't receive criticism well, it's the same when parents's kids are criticized, it's therefore a criticism of themselves). Also interesting enough, I had trouble thinking of a summary. I'll have to work on that. But it was weird that I was like a kid on stage for the Christmas play. Here's how our conversation went.
"What's your story about?"
"It's about... some stuff... and things... my cat's breath smells like cat food."
"What?"
"Well, let me think of a summary, I've never really needed to think of one so far."
"Okay."
*time passes in which I ask other questions to avoid answering this one*
"So have you thought of a summary yet?"
*realizes he cannot escape*"Well, it's about a college kid who finds out that his sister has committed suicide. Only she didn't, the circumstances of her death aren't really determined, and it's about his quest to find out what happened." *Realizes this is painting a very different picture than what I originally wrote* "But that makes it sound like a detective story. It's really more of a character study."
And by that I mean it's more about what happened/happens to him, that what he happens to. That's sort of the point of the story, from an oblique angle. The decline and fall of a typical human. As soon as I find out what it's about I'll tell you.
I might also be scared to share any of this with her, it's very much a part of me, and I'm expecting her to see that. It's like reading my diary to her. And I fear that some of it might change her opinion about my character. It's not a happy story. People die. People who seem like people around me die. And I'm expecting her to get offended like a girl would do, about something that she interprets as allegorical to our relationship, when none of this was really written when I knew her.
It wasn't as bad as the other conversation we had about my work in progress.
*me gazes off into space* "Sorry, I was thinking about ideas for my story."
"What's your story about?"
"I don't know. That's why I'm thinking of ideas for it."
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