This is a complete coincidence, today will consist of writer-centric posts. What initially inspired this eccentricity was a buzzfeed article, which was both hilarious to the point of making me laugh outright with expletives and simultaneously making me pensive and somewhat annoyed. I initially brushed off the negative feelings, but the residue was still there after a few days and here we are.
Now, just to be clear, the negative residue had nothing to do with the article/story itself, but the very statement it successfully made. First, to have you guys better understand where I’m coming from, you have to read the satirical commentary by Shannon Reed, called If Jane Austen Got Feedback from Some Guy in a Writing Workshop. The title is pretty self-explanatory. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as much as I did!
Here are two of my favorite bits…
1. “Some Guy” completely ignoring the lack of a Bennett son is a major plot point, if not the driving force of the novel’s action, with Mr. Collins inheriting the Bennett house, and driving Mrs. Bennett’s rampage of finding suitors for all her daughters.
Also, why five sisters? How about just two? Combine Jane and Kitty. Or, better, make one of the sisters a brother (named “Jim,” maybe?), and then he could be the narrator who mentions his sisters from time to time! Like Hamlet!
2. “Some Guy” not appreciating or understanding that a novel about women is not necessarily only for women.
Also, there aren’t a lot of men in this book. Only about the same number as there are women.
Going on to say…
What do you think about Jim, Othello, and Wickham: Brothers in Arms as a title instead of Pride and Prejudice?
After the initial hilarity from recognizing this “Some Guy or Girl”, I began to remember just how often I’ve heard or read about these kinds of horror stories. We all know “Some Guy or Girl”, that person who shares their opinion forcefully even when you didn’t invite it, the person who relishes in sharing their “correct” criticism in all its righteous glory when it is asked for. I’m not saying these people are evil, on the contrary, sometimes they provide a useful challenge.
But, and it’s a big but, when someone rips at the heart of your story, the part you feel the strongest about, you go against all odds and you ignore everyone but yourself!
What if Jane had listened to “Some Guy”, what would we have gotten? Where would Lizzie be? Would there be a Darcy? Would the world have even heard of Jane almost 200 years in the future? (Wow, it’ll be 200 years since her passing in 2017.) This of how bleak it would be without her works. What about other authors? What if Tolkien had never created Middle Earth, or Lewis and his Narnia, what if there was no magical wizarding world?
I wonder how many would be authors out there have stopped writing due to some criticism, or worse yet, have stopped due to fearing criticism. It’s a horrible thought! What a waste of stories and tales and other worlds! Where could you have taken us would be author? It’s not too late to lead us to a new place and introduce us to new people. Maybe you stopped writing a week ago, maybe years ago; well I am here to tell you: Do not let anyone stop you from telling a story, sure there will always be critics, and sometimes they’ll have valuable pointers, but have confidence in yourself and the heart of what you’re trying to say. Never lose focus on that!