You Can't Please Everyone

Yesterday I finished I Am the Messenger, by Marcus Zusak, which I will not talk about here {though I found it brilliant and reviewed it}. I had been scared of reading it because of how great The Book Thief was. In fact, it is my personal opinion that The Book Thief is the best piece of literature yet published in the twenty-first century.

My Messenger adventure prompted me to search for a little more information on what makes Zusak...Zusak. He doesn't seem to have a blog. In fact, there's not much about him at all on the Internet. But I did find an interesting interview. And one quote stood out to me:
"I thought no one would read this; I thought it would be my least read book by a mile. You think about a book set in Nazi Germany and it’s 500 pages long and you write about Death and everyone dies. It’s not exactly a book you recommend to your friends..." -- Marcus Zusak
If you don't already know, The Book Thief was a #1 New York Times Bestseller. It was given the National Jewish Book Award, Book Sense Book of the Year Award for Children's Literature (2007), Buxtehuder Bulle (2008), Prijs van de Kinder- en Jeugdjury Vlaanderen (2009), Printz Honor (2007) Exclusive Books Boeke Prize (2007), The Quill Award Nominee for Young Adult/Teen (2006), Zilveren Zoen (2008), Teen Read Award Nominee for Best All-Time-Fave (2010), Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis for Preis der Jugendjury (2009), ALA's Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (2007), ASSOCIATION OF JEWISH LIBRARIES NEW AND NOTABLE BOOK for Teen Book Award (2006), Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2010), and the Kathleen Mitchell Award. And he thought no one would read it.

When you think about it, he makes a good point. It's a long book. It's depressing. There's a great deal of swearing, though it's in German. It's about children, but it addresses and alludes to adult topics, but it's marketed as a book for young adults. It was published in the same year as Twilight. The Hunger Games had yet to hit shelves. Young adult was a market, but it was a fledgling one. Not that The Book Thief fits into it anyway.

As you may have noticed from Friday's post, I've been struggling with my soon-to-be-published book. When I wrote it, I adhered to the mantra to write what I wanted to read. A lot of agents give that advice. It's good advice.

But when you're about to publish your book, you wonder why it was the advice you chose to take. Suddenly, you realize that Group A could hate your book for Reason B. And Group C could hate your book for Reason D. And let's not even talk about Group E. All of a sudden, you're making last-minute adjustments in an attempt to please everyone.

Not only does that damage the artistic integrity of your creation, it's downright impossible. You can never, ever please everyone. You can try, oh yes, you can try! But at the end of the day, you'll look ridiculous {and not in a good, free-to-be-yourself way}...and still no one will be pleased.

It doesn't matter if we're talking about books or life or clothes or decisions or whatever. You can't please everyone. You can't. You shouldn't, true, but you can't. No one can please everyone. And at the end of the day, you can only require yourself to be true to you and God. Don't waste you in an attempt to be what everyone wants you to be.

on Kindle 8/27!
My book isn't as brilliant as Zusak's, but it has the same tendency to be a square peg in a round hole--and, conversely, a round peg in a square hole. I wrote it because it was in my head. I wrote it because I liked it. I wrote it because I thought it was romantic and funny and suspenseful and that it said something important.

At the end of the day, that's all I can ask for. Am I pleased with it? And is God? And if I feel like I can say yes to both of those questions, I have succeeded. It is worth it to write books that don't fit. Just look at Marcus Zusak. He wrote something that he wanted to write, even though he didn't expect it to be appreciated. The result was something brilliant.

What about you? Have you ever felt like you didn't fit in the mold? Did you try to please everyone? Or were you yourself?

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