I just watched La La Land, again. My husband thinks the movie is ridiculous. People dance and sing for no reason, and randomly float. I love it. I love how unashamedly romantic it is, how wistful. I love how it mixes dreams with reality, to the point that you don’t have to care if it’s real. I love the technicolor look. There’s even a happy ending if you just submit to the dream and never wake up. I’m sure many critics disagree and find faults, but I love it all the same. I imagine myself dancing with Ryan Gosling, and all the ridiculousness is forgiven, everything else fades to the background… 🙂
The power of opinions
My reaction to ‘Blah Blah Land’, as the men I live with call it, got me thinking of how subjective our opinions are, how utterly meaningless. Yet, we are swayed by other people’s opinions, every day. We ask for recommendations and read reviews. Us authors even read our own book reviews. Well, some higher beings claim to never read theirs, insisting they never visit Goodreads and most certainly never respond to anyone. I possess no such willpower and have done all of the above. As an author, I’m a bundle of insecurities, capable of overthinking so powerful it will protect me from dementia in my old age. I have major impostor syndrome. I was born in Finland, yet I write in English. It’s not a case of faking it until I make it. I’ll never be a native English speaker. I’ll be faking it all the way through. Sometimes, I pick up my own book and read a chapter. I find something to fix in every paragraph. I’m not talking about typos or mistakes. Just a sentence that could be improved, or a dialogue tag I could have done away with. Work could always be better.
Yet, I have received wonderful feedback, and reviews from readers who’ve loved my stories, who’ve felt something powerful. Sometimes, I feel like a reader ‘understands’ the book better than I did. Stories are so subjective, there really isn’t a one size fits all kind of book out there. This comforts me. We need a variety of books, from a variety of authors, so that each of us can find the escape we’re looking for. Our needs change. What we like and respond to evolves. We need choices.
‘I do it for me’ – Do you really?
I don’t write for myself. I think it’s one of the most common lies people tell, akin to the ‘I wear makeup to make myself feel better’. No, you don’t. How many of us wear uncomfortable jeans that make our ass look nice when working from home? If you can’t show it off on Zoom, then what’s the point? So, yes, we do things for other people. We’re social beings. Our possessions, looks, talent… they only make sense in the context of the society. My 7-year-old often fantasizes about a world empty of other people, where we could just pick any house (like one with a pool!) to live in. But, I remind him, what would be the point? Who would you invite over to play in your pool? Who would you tell about it?
Who do you write to?
When I’m writing, I don’t like to think about ‘the audience’. It’s too generic. Writers who think about the audience, or worry about ‘writing to the market’ while writing, are a bit like actors who slip out of character. Ryan Gosling would never take his full attention off Emma Stone’s huge anime eyes… no, no. That would break the spell. When I write, I’m thinking of my friend. I’m writing to her. To entertain her, move her, surprise her… I know she isn’t judgmental, and she likes my style. She will also most likely be one of my first readers, when I’m still nervous about the book and how it will be received. I owe everything to friends who’ve encouraged me.
I’m good enough to do what I love.
If I thought there was only room for a handful of incredibly talented geniuses, I wouldn’t publish anything. I have to believe, and I do, that there’s a space in this world, and in virtual bookstores, that only I can fill with my weirdness. I know there are many indie authors in the same boat, albeit many with more talent and a far wider vocabulary. I commend you all. I’m so happy you’re all here, fighting the good fight, doing your thing.
I’m old enough to love whatever I love.
And to all the readers (and movie watchers) out there, I commend you even more. It’s far easier to criticize than to publicly love something, especially if it’s not highly recommended by everyone around you. But isn’t it wonderful to love something, to enjoy something? To me, at the ripe age of 40, it doesn’t matter what others think of the things I love. I don’t mind being ridiculed by critics, people who know better, or even my husband. I get to feel something awesome. In my imagination, I get to dance with Ryan Gosling, so in the end, I win 🙂