Friday, June 13, 2014

The Best Question I Ever Got Asked

I did a school visit today and I got asked a lot of amazing questions (because 4th and 5th graders always ask the best questions, no lie)...but there was one that really made me pause. In fact, I think it might be one of the best philosophical questions I've ever gotten asked.

We were talking about reviews, and one student asked me: "If you know you're going to get bad reviews, why would you even show anyone your work?"

Wow. What a perfect question. The funny thing is, when I was her age, I would never have even thought about showing my work to anybody. Even though it was my dream to "publish a book," I kept all my writing to myself. In fact, I didn't show anything to anyone until I had to submit a short story to get into my undergrad film program. And then, as it turned out, I got thrown into the deep end at film school where, of course, you're constantly making work to get critiqued. (And thank goodness for that. I may not have a very thick skin still, but it's much thicker than it would have been without it.)

So...why do I? My response wasn't that bad reviews don't bother me. Or that it doesn't matter what someone who doesn't like my book says. Because none of those would be entirely true--though I have learned to not be personally affronted by them (for the most part...). In essence, I had to think about why I tell stories, really. I tell them for myself, yes, but I also tell them in the hopes that they can be shared. That in the midst of writing them, I will happen upon some truth that means something to me but that, hopefully, means something to someone else too. That's what books have always done for me. That's what I always aspire for mine to do. And that's what makes it worth it.

How would you answer that question?

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