Monday, January 10, 2011
The Search For The Universal Specific
Sorry, but the universal specific doesn't exist, either in medicine or in any other area of life that I can envision at this point. The tools we have will work in some situations, not in others. That's why there are so many options available to us (and aren't we fortunate to have them?) Yet some of us, at some point or other, still look for the elusive universal specific.
Not too many years ago, I traded in my head mirror and prescription pad for a computer and the label "writer." It's a frustrating profession, and the journey to publication is long and arduous. Some reach it, others don't. And even after you're published, success isn't guaranteed. People have to buy your books, read them, and then--here's the hard part--like them. If they don't...no, when they don't, there's a great temptation to wonder what can be done so that everyone will like what we write. We're looking for the universal specific of writing. And it doesn't exist.
I've faced this recently, since the availability of my debut novel, Code Blue, as a free ebook download on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, put it in the hands of a number of people who were more interested in the "free" part than the subject matter. Many of them were apparently turned off by a book that fell into the category of "Christian fiction," and like getting olives out of a bottle, once the first negative review was posted, a number of others followed. I agonized over these reviews, wondering what I could do to make these people like my writing. I was searching for the universal specific. And it was a fruitless search.
I pay attention to reviews, and if there's something I can do to make my next book better, I try to do it. But I write Christian fiction. My novels may not contain conversion scenes and hard sells of the Gospel, but they do show how Christians face trials and crises. I'm not going to change that. So, I guess I'll continue to get bad reviews from readers who don't like that subject matter. I'll just have to trust other readers to post good reviews.
Are there areas of your life where you continue to search for that elusive something that will make everyone like you, make you a success in your endeavors, remove the clouds of disapproval that crop up on the horizon from time to time? What you're looking for is a universal specific. And it doesn't exist.