Fear and How You See the World

© Forca | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

© Forca | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

A few posts ago I talked about Horses and Victims–about fear distorting how an animal or human deals with the world. Sometimes the reaction is a result of an over-sensitive individual having to put up with unaware or uncaring people, such as with my horse Glory. Sometimes it is a result of direct abuse. Recently I encountered an unexpected reaction which came from the latter source.

Last month I self-published a short story titled IMAGES – A LOVE STORY. Before I put it up I had several people critique and edit it. Everyone thought it was a sweet tale and seemed to enjoy it. Except for the last person who saw it. Her reaction totally astonished me.

My friend was extremely upset by the story. She thought the hero was manipulative, had ulterior motives and was not to be trusted. Going through it page by page, she pointed out all the suspect things he was doing. I was blown away by her interpretation of his actions. I would never have thought that about someone without a compelling reason. And frankly, she was amazed at the intensity of her reaction too. I’d really hit a hot button for her.

It seems she had been molested as a child and, even though she has been happily married for many years, that has skewed her view of men. Also, she has a daughter who has been in an abusive relationship, and she has worked with a battered women’s group. Talk about a different background from my nice, safe, sheltered life!  While I understood where her response was coming from, I didn’t think most people would feel the same and didn’t change my story.

But the incident pointed out again how differently people can react to the same stimulus. I’ve entered my stories in contests and received both perfect scores along with quite low scores in the same contest. Some people seem to really like my writing and others don’t. I’ve only gotten a few reviews for my novel, WYOMING ESCAPE, and mostly they’ve been quite good. But I did get one person who didn’t like the heroine at all–thought she was wimpy. Other people have admired her guts. As the saying goes, “different strokes for different folks.”

All writers go through the same thing and have similar stories. But it’s interesting to speculate on what provokes such opposing opinions. What happened in the reader’s life to cause this reaction? Hmm, fodder for a new tale?

Have youCover - Images - 2 encountered a really off-the-wall reaction to anything you’ve done? Were you able to discover the reason for the response?


If you’d like to read IMAGES and compare your reaction to my friend’s, you can find it for Free on Smashwords.

You can also find WYOMING ESCAPE on most online bookstores.

Categories: abuse, battered women, Books, fear, horse personalities, Horses, romance, Uncategorized, writing, writing characters | Tags: , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

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12 thoughts on “Fear and How You See the World

  1. marsharwest

    Gee, Kate, my sympathy goes out to your friend. The Abuse experience really does color everything the person see after that.
    Absolutely, this business is all about perspective and is very subjective. Just got back some scores from a contest. They were similar to yours. With a basis of 100, I recieved 70, 90 and 98. LOL I haven’t taken time to read over the comments from the 70 judge. I will because they could well state some valid points. But it’s such a subjective deal. Picking out the helpful comments from the ones that are just personal opinion is a difficult task. But that’s what we have to do. Glad you stuck with your story as you did.

    • Yeah, you can’t escape your past.
      I’ve found the comments from the lower scoring judges are often more helpful. But, as you say, you have to evaluate them. Hope they prove helpful to you.

  2. This is interesting. People’s reactions to what they read are colored by their own experiences. At some point, I worked with an editor on my soon to be published THE WOODEN CHAIR, the story of a 5-year old who grows up with an abusive and alcoholic mother. Halfway through the editing, the editor blamed my story for not continuing to work on it. She said the story didn’t have the elements of a publishable work, that she didn’t want to be held responsible when I didn’t get it published. Later, I learned she herself had been the victim of parental sexual abuse so my story was too heavy emotionally. In your case it’s over-identification with your story’s hero.

  3. Wow, that poor editor must have encountered a lot of stories that were hard for her. I wonder how long she lasted? Sorry you got caught in her problems.

  4. So true! My heroes are helpful and protective. Sometimes my heroines and my readers see them as pushy and CP’s called one a stalker. The heroine’s annoyance is part of the conflict. There was a real stalker, so the heroine needed that hero who would follow her to make sure she was safe. When the “stalker” hero saved the heroine, well….. I spent a lot of time explaining why the hero was so protective that I felt I was giving away the story.

    • It’s funny how perceptions have changed. Twenty years ago the heroes were pushy and know-it-all, telling the heroines what was best for them. Doesn’t work nowadays. It’s harder to write a “protector” today.

  5. To me, art, including writing, holds this adage true: “Beauty is the eye of the beholder.” Some people like certain things, and many people respond differently to different things. Various people, various likes and dislikes, various responses — we writers never know how readers will react to our creativity. I’m glad to know you’ve received more thumbs up than thumbs down; and it’s good you have a varied readership and most enjoy your work, so one needs to focus on that. The abuse is very sad and tragic, and unfortunately happens often. Keep up the good work!

  6. I know what you main. Even the w away people see us is different than we see ourselves. Nice blog. Cher’ley

  7. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

    • Sounds like you were able to put the reader into the scene or story, as we are striving to do, but it was too real and triggered too many feelings. Pro’s and con’s to being able to do that! I believe I did that at my writer’s critique group when I wrote a short story about a wife sitting at her husband’s coffin for a last private goodbye. A lady new to the group left saying she had done that, even though Iknew it had been a number of years ago for her. I felt bad but also felt I had a legitimate piece of writing that generated responsive feelings, which was what I was hoping to achieve. You sound like a talented writer and I wish you blessings.

      • Thanks for the kind words. You never can know what’s likely to trigger a response from someone. I guess we just need to be honest as we can in our writing.

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