This post isn’t really about cheese. Though it would be nice to see cheese in my tag cloud.
It’s about opinions – more specifically, it’s about others’ opinions about something you produced.
Earlier this week, my friend posted a video of a Christmas light display (don’t try to play it; this is a pic of the post and not the actual video. If you want to see a video of the display, click here and scroll to the bottom.) The friend who posted it is the first comment you see. I made a comment just before, in which I wondered how many times my house would be on the internet.
My house is the one with the blue snowflakes on the roof.
Now look at the comment immediately following my friend’s.
And for good measure, look at the one after that.
Now, I had nothing to do with the light display. Nothing. I just have the good fortune of living right next door to a guy who really gets into this stuff. He has six houses involved in this show, and the lights coordinate with music. Our houses were on the news last night.
So it was odd when that middle comment stung a little bit. I was like, “Hey! Ours is just fine, thankyouverymuch!” And then I wondered why I felt that way.
I didn’t have any part in setting up the display, other than offering up the surface area of our property.
Maybe the show in Falcon is better. I haven’t seen it, so I don’t know.
So what if it is?
What are the odds that something you or I create – a book, a painting, a piece of music, or a light show – will be the best thing ever? Honestly? Now, I think my books are pretty nifty, or I wouldn’t be trying to send them off to live among the masses. But are they the best?
It would be delusional of me to think so.
I’m choosing to share my creativity in a medium that literally millions of other people use. Some books are undoubtedly awesome – according to me. Odds are, if I look at the reviews for a book I love, there will be some four, three, or even two-star reviews for the very same book.
According to a two-star reviewer, there is better stuff out there.
Even according to me, who gave the book five stars, there is “better” stuff out there. I’m not sure I’ve read the best book ever.
Here’s the thing: When I’m looking for something new to read, I’m not looking for the best book. I’m looking for something entertaining, an enjoyable way to while away the hours. I’d bet most readers are like me in that regard.
Some readers will love my work. Others won’t. I’ll probably get reviews that span the star continuum. And that’s okay.
My goal wasn’t to write the best book ever. My goal was to tell a good story. Some will like it, and others won’t. Maybe my story will speak to someone in a way they need to be spoken to in that moment. That’s my hope. I’d venture to say most artists would say something to that effect as well.
Before I wrap this up, I’m sure some of you are wondering why the hell I put cheese in the title. As I was brainstorming this post last night, I remembered a quote, something about slicing a better cheddar. I couldn’t remember exactly where I’d heard it, but I was pretty sure it came from Friends. So I asked my niece, who has an extremely thorough knowledge of every episode. This was her response:
Your work can be good. It can be excellent. Your work can be the next (fill in famous artist/author/actor here). But someone out there will prefer someone else’s work to yours. It would be impossible for 100% of humanity to love your work beyond compare. Someone will always slice a better cheddar.
But others will love your work. They’ll tell their friends about it. They’ll give it five stars. In the case of the light show, they’ll bring their kids to see it, every year. Focus on those people, and don’t worry about the rest.