Scott and I have been re watching episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, one of my all time favorite series. I grew up on this show and sitting through a few episodes is a very comforting way to unwind for me.
In one of the latest episodes, Guinan, played by Whoopi Goldberg. dispatched a snippet of her brilliant bartender wisdom to Geordie who was sulking about a relationship that wasn't goingthe way he wanted. "She did the worst thing a one human being can do to another; she didn't live up to your expectations."
And Geordie being Georgie, sat back and you could almost see the wheels start turning. If there was a little thought bubble over his head it would have read oops, my bad. It's not her, it's me. Oh to be those well adjusted self-actualized people of the UFP.
I've been thinking about this quiet a bit lately, especially how it relates to books, writers and readers. As a reader, I know what it's like to pick up a book, look forward to a terrific story by an author I love and be severely disappointed with the outcome. The book just didn't "do it," for me, there was no sizzle of connection. But is that the writer's fault? It obviously worked for her, and probably others as well, an editor, a literary agent, critique partners and all the reviews that gave the book great ratings. Just not me.
As a writer, I'm supposed to give romance and mystery and science fiction readers what they want. In order to be a successful writer I have to give an editor, an agent a host of reviewers what they want. And if I don't deliver, what happens? Some people are disappointed. But is it my bad? I don't think so, I wrote the best book I could. The readers are free to voice what did or didn't work for him or her and I will take it under advisement but there is just no way I can please all the people all the time. That's not my job.
The arena of disappointed expectations is expanding. Mary Gramlich, the reading reviewer, has received some serious flack on Amazon.com lately because her reviews do not live up to someone else's expectations. Mary refuses to write negative reviews, ie review books she would give less than a four or five star rating. Some people claim it is her obligation as a reviewer to write reviews on books she didn't enjoy. Why? She isn't under any obligation to do this. No one is paying her to review what they want reviewed. She receives free ARC (advanced reader copies) of books and then donates them to SOS Aloha, a non profit that enables romance readers to support military families. That's the gig she signed on for, nothing else.
If you don't like her reviews, no one is forcing you to read them. If you don't like the book I wrote, feel free to leave a critical review. I'm a big girl, I can take it. But forcing your expectations on someone else is childish and unrealistic. And the only one who will truly be disappointed at the end of the day is you.