Writing Can Be Murder

April 20, 2007

Subjective Art

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenniferelbaum @ 1:09 pm

I am a slow (okay, sometimes, really, really, painfully slow) learner, but a couple of years ago I learned that everything is subjective. (Yeah, I know this isn’t exactly a lightbulb moment for most people.)

I sat in a room full of actors/directors/backstage staff (who always looked busy but I have no idea what their purpose was) and listened to a script of mine read aloud. (I’ll save the “it’s awful hearing your work read aloud” post for another time.) At the end of the reading, the room was divided between those that “got it” and those that had no clue.

Did I take to heart the idea that everything’s subjective? Nope. I decided I’d done a crappy job and spent a week rewriting the script.

Then new actors showed up and read the new-and-improved script. And again, half the people in the room didn’t get it.

 By now I was riddled with self-doubt and was really starting to wonder if I was just plain nuts because I KNEW what I wanted to say was on the page and I’d explained it to my director (multiple times) but he just didn’t get it.

Thankfully another actor showed up, read it once and when the director started asking him questions about his character and the story he said, “Oh yeah…blah, blah, blah.” He GOT it. Same exact script, same lines, same words, but he GOT it.

Ah ha! I wasn’t the world’s biggest failure any longer.

A week later the piece was performed and there was a Q&A section afterwards. (I’ll save the “it’s terrible sitting in front of an entire audience and having them critique your work” for another post.) Can you guess what happened?

Half the audience got it (and LOVED it) and the other half didn’t get it (and were monumentally confused and decided they didn’t like it.)

 Every kind of art: music, painting, writing, dance, sculpture, etc. is subjective. Not everyone is going to get it. Not everyone is going to love it.

So don’t take any critique or rejection to heart. It’s only one person (or one group’s) opinion.

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1 Comment »

  1. Had a tick bite on my back, went to the doc to make sure it wasn’t Lyme Disease. He said, THAT TICK BITE’S OK, BUT I DON’T LIKE THIS MOLE. Went to the dermatologist, who said, THAT MOLE IS OK, BUT I DON’T LIKE THAT TICK BITE.
    Went home and ignored them both.

    EVERYTHING is subjective…..

    Comment by Laura Green — May 14, 2007 @ 8:06 pm


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