Cassie likes to watch TV. Her favorite shows are the ones with animals running around, especially monkeys, horses, sheep, and dogs. After that would be watching little kids, toddler age. She takes naps when reality shows are on. When she catches a glimpse of a horse racing across the screen she’ll sometimes stand up on her hind legs to get a better view and make noises that she only makes when watching TV. Her favorite viewing position is in her chair that’s closest to the TV, her head resting on the arm and her nose pointed toward the screen. She’s a TV watching kind of a dog.
Which makes what happened the other night really interesting.
We were watching the movie The Hurt Locker, which didn’t have any of Cassie’s favorite animals in it but also wasn’t a reality show so I figured she’d do like she did most nights, watch with one eye open so she could be ready in case an elephant lumbered into sight. This wasn’t the first war movie we’ve watched since we got her. It wasn’t the first dark or violent or noisy one. (Hubby loves the really scary horror movies.) But this was the first movie that made Cassie visibly uncomfortable. About fifteen minutes into the film she got out of her bed, came over to my side and whimpered. It was a funny sound that I don’t hear from her very often. Of course I had no idea what was going on or what to do so when she stopped making noises I gave her a few strokes and then started talking to her. I even offered her a place next to me on the couch but she refused.
The movie continued.
Cassie walked over to my husband and made the same sort of noises to him. We paused the film and just watched her for a while trying to figure out what was going on. Eventually we gave up and went back to watching the movie. The entire time Cassie couldn’t settle down. She paced. She hopped into her chair and then down again. She sat in her bed and then got out again. She finally hunkered down in the space between my husband’s chair and the bookcase and waited. I think if she could have figured out the remote control, she would have turned the TV off in a heartbeat.
When the movie was over we didn’t say a word. Didn’t do anything except flip to a mindless sitcom. Within minutes Cassie was happily sprawled in her bed, snoring away.
I’ll never know what was going on in her doggie mind, what it was about the movie that made her feel so uncomfortable.
I didn’t connect with the movie in any way. I watched it and could only tell you vaguely what it was about being it didn’t reach me, it didn’t disturb my universe, it didn’t make me care. But it touched Cassie.
Sometimes I pass my newly written words into the hands of an early reader feeling pretty sure that they will offer back mountains of praise and instead I receive a shrug of the shoulders or an “I don’t get” comment. Yet I can ask another first reader for their opinion on the same pages and they will be moved, they’ll connect and they’ll get exactly what I’m trying to do. That doesn’t mean one reader was right and one reader was wrong or that my story was broken. All of that could be the case but that’s not what I mean here.
What it means is that not everyone is going to love your book. Not every early reader. Not every agent. Not every editor. Not every reviewer or teacher or blogger or, well you get the idea. When we’re in the middle of writing the story we have this fairy tale movie playing in our head about how everyone is going to rave about our book. But the reality is that you are going to connect with some people and not with others and that’s just the way it is.
I forget that sometimes.
When I think about it, it sorta takes the pressure off. You don’t have to please everyone so why not write YOUR story YOUR way and please yourself?
What a concept. I think Cassie would approve.