Yes! We Are All Individuals!

Realisation comes quite slowly at times, but I had a wee bit of an epiphany this morning.

After the cats woke me up at 7am by persistently purring and literally using my bladder as a trampoline, I meandered downstairs and idly flicked through the virtual pages of the interwebs. My second short story, Action and Consequence, went into the new edition of Hammer & Bolter, which went live for download yesterday. I had received a couple of emails and PMs from people telling me that they’d enjoyed it. That was nice.

The epiphany came in the realisation, obvious though it is – and much as I well know it – that different people like different things. All of the comments and feedback I’ve gotten thus far have been very positive. But interestingly, some people liked A&C more than Primary Instinct, and some were the other way around. For no readily apparent reason, I found this quite interesting.

Since Primary Instinct was published, I’ve been a little anxious about stumbling upon reviews. Even when you know that you’re not going to please all the people all the time, there’s still a little part of you that hopes at least some people will enjoy what you’ve written. The Warhammer fandom is a difficult beast, I think. It’s made up of a lot of different people and they’re all going to differ in their individual tastes. Rightly so – how dull would the universe be if they all liked the same thing? Hell, even in this house there’s differences of opinion on what we like to read. Dearly Beloved might like one thing, whilst I’ll sort of shrug my shoulders and extol the wonders of something else… to which he shrugs his shoulders.

With the help and guidance of Them What Knows, I’ve started to learn to take reviews and feedback – both good and bad – in a very detached way. Approaching them from the angle of, as already said, ‘you can’t please all the people all the time’, I’ve discovered that swipes without basis just roll off me. (Case in point: the most carefully thought out review ever. ‘I thought it was ‘meh’. Note: I’ve read that about a couple of the big-seller BL books – Prospero Burns and The First Heretic have both been described in such a way. I consider myself flattered to be put on the same level as Dan Dan the Writist Man and Aaron Dembski-Bowden. For what it’s worth, I enjoyed both of those books and found nothing ‘meh’ about them at all. Go figure).

And it’s not just books, either. Music, films, milk or plain chocolate… everyone likes different things. What really sets my teeth on edge though are those arrogant people who are not prepared to accept that just because they think something is either ULTRASUPERMEGAFANTASTICANDAMAZING or OMGWTFBBQBAD other people don’t agree. Very much the ‘everyone is entitled to my opinion’ people. Those are the people you will never please.

Occasionally I’ll play a little game on my Facebook or Twitter feed that I call ‘Either/or’. It’s just a little bit of fun and apart from the people who never quite get the basic rules (the basic rule is… either one thing or the other. Not a random other option), it can be quite entertaining. It’s always fun to see how opinion divides. Occasionally someone will post in horror that people have picked the ‘either’ rather than the ‘or’. (Airwolf or Blue Thunder for example got quite a lot of people het up).

I love how everyone’s different.

Rambling… reminds me of a Far Side cartoon I saw once:

The Four Basic Personality Types

I had a theory that you could tell the basic thinking types of people by handing them a jumbled Rubik’s cube (pretending, for a moment, that nobody knew what it was) and explaining that they had to solve it by making all the colours match on every side. This theory was actually based on my brother’s and my own approach to solving it. The Rubik’s cube would thus present the following three types:

1) Methodical thinkers (also known as ‘the sensible ones’) The ones who take a moment or two to understand the fundamental mechanics of how the cube works, the way it twists, the way the rotation of the pieces makes a massive difference and then proceed to twist their way to the solution. This was my brother.

2) Lazy thinkers (also known as ‘massive cheats’) The ones who peel off every label but the centre ones and stick them back on again.

3) Lateral thinkers (also known as ‘slightly odd’ or ‘engineers’. Which are similar things) The ones who deconstruct the cube and then rebuild it… in my case with the phrase “you didn’t say I couldn’t solve it that way”.

I digress. Again. Sorry. Shouldn’t attempt stream of consciousness blogging first thing in the morning. Where was I? Oh yes.

There are a whole bunch of methods to describe the fact that people have individual tastes, likes and hates. ‘What’s sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander’, for example. What a very silly phrase. But yeah. I get its meaning. Look at the nursery rhyme of Jack Sprat. The man who disliked fat on his meat andwho had a wife who would eat no lean. What a weird arrangement they had. Incidentally, the Politically Correct version of said nursery rhyme:

Original:

Jack Sprat could eat no fat
His wife could eat no lean;
And so between them both you see
They licked the platter clean.

Under the terms of Political Correctness, this should now be taught thus:

Complications arose during a non-congressional investigation of dietary influence. One person (of the male gender) was unable to assimilate adipose tissue and another person (of the female gender) was unable to consume tissue consisting chiefly of muscle fibre. A reciprocal arrangement betweent he two – who also happened to be a party of a domesticated alliance – allowed for the total consumption of the viands under consideration. This was ultimately achieved, thus leaving the original container of the viands devoid of any contents.

I find that funny. There’s probably plenty of people who don’t.

Right. Breakfast, I think. I’d ask you to recommend what I should have, but I don’t trust your opinion.

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4 thoughts on “Yes! We Are All Individuals!

  1. GDMNW says:

    Face it. You’re a talented author.

    That said. I don’t think there’s such a thing as an invalid opinion. Sure, they come in all flavours, rational and irrational, considered and spontaneous, reasoned and poorly thought, well intentioned and ill intentioned. But they’re all valid in their own way.

    Distancing your self from the ‘meh’ is vital. It’s very difficult to draw anything functional from the disregard of others. But of course, being reminded that that people disagree and criticise even the best of things is important.

    It means there are still people out there who need to be woken up and shaken up. It should inspire creative types like yourself to continue to write (or whatever the chosen area of expression may be). Every person you awake to think about writing rather than pass it off as ‘meh’ is another victory won.

    I think there are two elements in play. Taste and appreciation. Everyone is entitled to their taste, and there’s often no accounting for it. People express it remarkably freely on the internet too.

    As for appreciation? It’s the mark of the attentive mind to appreciate everything, independent of taste. You should never consider yourself responsible for those who fail to develop an opinion before they express it.

    What I’m getting at is that a positive and appreciative review is the best sort out there. Blindly positive (or negative) comments are beyond useless. They should all be ignored. But a considered opinion, where someone has invested themselves in arriving at a useful and rational conclusion? Brilliant indeed.

    My 2c

    Oh. Airwolf.

  2. GDMNW says:

    That’s the problem with ‘meh’. There’s absolutely nothing you can do with it. Pointless.

    • I know. Weird thing is though, my basic personality means that my first thought process is ‘oh no! I’ve somehow mortally offended you! Tell me how to make it right!’ Because, y’know. I’m a nice person.

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