Tag Archives: James Ellroy

Reader responses

When you write a story you have no control over how others are going to react to it. Sure, there are buttons you can press and levers you can pull to try and initiate a particular response but, ultimately, a reader’s personal experiences and preferences will determine their tastes.

We all like different stuff. People won’t necessarily enjoy what you do/write/compose/think/paint… Toughen up and move on.

That’s easy to say but I had a moment that really took me aback not so long ago. An adult reader smiled at me and said, “I started reading your book … but I’m not 10 or 11 so it wasn’t really for me.”

I was gob-smacked by her thoughtlessness. She was a family acquaintance of several years. I couldn’t care less that she didn’t like my novel. It was her attitude I found offensive. I almost had to physically restrain my loyal wife.

My response was to smile back and say “I’ve had readers as young as nine and old as 97 enjoy that story. But it’s not for everyone. Each to their own.”

Since joining the Twitterverse I’ve enjoyed all sorts of insights into how authors handle different situations.

Here’s a ripper from James Ellroy, courtesy of Paris Review (from memory) that talks about how to handle critics:

“If you’re confused about something in one of my books, you’ve just got to realize, Ellroy’s a master, and if I’m not following it, it’s my problem.”

Now you’ve got to like that sort of authorial thinking.