Daily Archives: April 19, 2009

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Member at Large: What an Artist owes

April 19, 2009 by in category Archives tagged as ,

One of my favorite authors came out with a new book recently, and I checked on Amazon for how I could have missed the book when it first came out. For grins, I read through the reviews. Seems some people didn’t like the book, and don’t like this author’s current philosophies. Many readers felt the character’s relationships were completely incorrect. Reams of electrons were spent on criticizing or defending the book’s plot, the author’s reaction to some things said about the book, and the perception of some of the readers as to the author’s reaction. I found myself amused and appalled. An artist – be it author, actor, singer, enters into a contract with those who listen, watch or read. The contract states, for the price of a book, a ticket, a recording, or time in front of the television, they owe us the best work they can produce at that time, and in their opinion. Not in my opinion, or your opinion, but their opinion. We owe them the courtesy of reading or listening. If we feel they have not fulfilled the contract to our satisfaction, we have the right to stop listening, stop reading, or cease to be part of the audience. This terminates the contract.

I clearly remember, back in my more innocent days, telling an author she really needed to write the story of a secondary character in one of her books. She could have reminded me she had already told the group she was moving on from this story line. Instead, she smiled sweetly and said: “You want his story. You write it.”

Better words were never spoken, and nothing has been a greater catalyst for me than to remind myself: If I don’t like the way a book is written, I have every right to write one for myself that turns out the way I want it to turn out.

If we do not enjoy the artist’s work, we have the option not to enter into another contract with them. Don’t buy another book, or recording, or ticket; change the channel. We possibly have the right to give our opinion on their work. Stating that a book should have been written in some different fashion is a waste of our time. You don’t like the plot, the characters, the ending? Write your own. Toss it to the winds, and if it finds a home, know you have fulfilled your contract with at least one reader. And isn’t that why we write?

Monica Stoner in Snowy New Mexico

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