Peas Suck, But You Don’t

August 17, 2012

I don’t like peas. Yeah, I said it. I don’t like peas. In fact, I hate them. I think they’re disgusting and I refuse to buy them for the pea-eaters in my house.

Are you offended? I’m going to go out on a limb and say no.

Now, what if I said I hate your favorite book? What if I said I didn’t like your book?

New ball game.

I realize peas and something you’ve produced (probably the work of years) are vastly different, but something I am slowly coming to terms with, slowly accepting as truth is that not liking something does not equal a value judgment. Peas are not for me, and because I don’t want to smell them, I don’t buy them, but are you a bad person if you like peas? I don’t think so. (Though you might get a dirty look if you bring them into my home).

There are some genres I don’t read because I don’t care for them, but I feel like I can’t say I don’t like them because we associate not liking something with it being bad. I can not like a book and still think it, and the author, have merit. I love Nora Roberts books, but I can’t get into J.D Robb. It’s my own personal preference.

Now, sure, there are people who make value judgments in terms of what they don’t like, who say, “Oh, I don’t read that.” And what they mean is, that is trash or bad. I think these are the same people who lack critical thinking skills, who lack the ability to participate in rational discourse.

We can and should not like something without turning our noses up at it.

As aspiring and published writers, it is even more imperative to believe and accept that not liking something is not the same as something being worthless. When we receive rejections, it is not simply because something is bad. Sometimes your manuscript is not good enough, sometimes it is fine but not fine enough for editor or agent to want to read multiple times, sometimes they simply don’t like it.

We hear this from editors and agents, but we don’t believe it. We assume don’t like is craptastic. We assume the editor or agent is just being nice. We assume. We read into things. We make up elaborate scenarios about how the manuscript isn’t just bad, we’re bad (hopefully that’s not just me). We internalize and feel as though we’re being personally rejected.

It’s hard to dissassociate ourselves from our work enough to see things impartially. To view rejection as something outside of us, as something less of a value judgment and more of a business decision. It’s hard, but it’s necessary.

If I was offended every time someone didn’t like something I did, I would spend all of my time being offended.

Both of my contracted novels were rejected a handful of times before they were accepted. Writing for publication is a business, no matter how personal it feels. Don’t let rejection offend you or determine your self worth.

Nicole

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