When I decided to go ahead and write what would become a four-book saga detailing the exploits of an orcish general, I asked a number of people to read it and give me some feedback and maybe some notes on editing. I asked one of my cousins, a friend from college, my step-daughter, my wife, and a Facebook friend to take a crack at it, and see what they thought needed adjusting. Everybody said yes and enthusiastically at that. My sister-in-law even recommended a total stranger (to me, anyway) who might enjoy reading it, so I sent him a copy as well.
Thankfully the total stranger actually came through and read what I had written. He thoroughly enjoyed it. Not enough to ever respond to any of my texts and emails since then, but he made some notes for me and seemed to appreciate the general tone of the first book. Nobody else could make it past the first chapter. In fact, I am not even sure they got as far as the first paragraph. I don’t know this for certain but I imagine their reaction to the first couple of sentences as being “Sweet baby Geraldine, what in God’s green earth did I agree to with this crap.” This is understandably frustrating for an aspiring author. Every artist likes to believe that they have produced some inspiring, delightful and uplifting work that will be enjoyed by the masses for all eternity. Realistically though, most of what is painted, written, performed and concocted is utter garbage. I have created trash.
This is not a bad thing, though. Even though a shockingly few number of people I know enjoy my writing, I can take solace in the fact that I enjoyed the process. Having an idea, and getting it out there on paper or in some form of print is cathartic in it’s own way. Spending time with characters of your own imagination, learning what makes them tick, and deciding what to do with the awful choices you had them make, is an exercise in self-expression that isn’t necessarily dependent on anyone else taking note of it. While it is satisfying to have people compliment my work it is worth remembering that a lot of folks just think it stinks. And that’s ok. Because I had a damned good time writing this tripe, and someday, God willing, there is going to be an English professor someplace in the world that will use my work as an example of what not to do. And that means somebody is going to have to sit down and read my work in order to pass a class. This is the revenge of the crap author. Best of all, that fool of a professor is going to take the blame for it. They will probably egg his house.
That is a legacy I can live with.