One of the coolest things about all art is the interpretation. Debates go endlessly about movies, books, paintings, poems, sculptures. And who's to say who's right and who's not when we can't even agree what's art and what isn't.
In trying to get feedback on my book, I've been giving out copies to my friends and family to get initial reactions, both kneejerk and constructive. I had readers who are fans and non-fans of fantasy, which is my genre.
One of my readers stated that my main character was highly sexual and emotional. I wanted honest opinions and here we are!
My kneejerk reaction was of course to defend.
But I'm here to learn so I asked her question after question, trying to keep an open mind.
None of my other readers had mentioned any of this. And just in case they missed something my friend hadn't, I asked one of them specifically about the above points.
Highly sexual was something that really surprised me. I asked her what made her think this. She said that my hero thought about his wife's scent, was enamored by her silky hair, and in a key scene couldn't sleep due to the absence of her breathing next to him. I asked another female reader what she thought about this without mentioning what my friend thought. She said my hero was in love with his wife that it was about love.
There's a saying. What you hate in others is what you hate in yourself. When I look at the lives of these two women, I can see why both thought the way they did.
I'm not saying they hated my book, but often what we see in art is often a reflection of us, an aspect anyway. I mean, haven't you listened to music that reflects how you feel in the moment? We listen to love songs, or angry alternative, when we've broken up with someone. Or listen to ambient music when we want to be calm. Or listen to heavy metal or techno when we're working out.
And knowing how 50% of sold books are romance novels tells you what women are feeling or needing.
My friend's second point, complaint really, about my hero being emotional was also interesting. For one, he is. It being a complaint is a judgement on the character. Kinda like saying someone being short is not good. It's not their fault. My hero just turned out that way.
This brings us to the definition of art. First off, I don't think it can be defined. It's like defining the soul. Or God. You can't. But a famed photographer once said that art is the language of the soul. Isn't that where inspiration comes from?
But if you want to see a cool and heated debate of what art is, check out an articleRober Ebertwrote about how video games aren't art.