Last week, I had a failure to communicate. That's actually a big issue for a lot of writers, although it's an issue I usually don't have a problem with. It's quite likely that the problem came out of trying to do a more visual post without much actual writing. In that, I overestimated the general ability that people would have at recognizing people. Of course, I also thought that people would not need to actually recognize the people to get the message. But more on the actual post in a moment.
One of the most common things I see writers saying in response to the responses they get to any given piece of work is, "You just don't understand." With that statement, they place the blame for the lack of understanding on the reader. Granted, there are occasions when that's true, but, usually, it's the fault of the author. Yeah, guess what, authors don't like to hear that, but, unfortunately, it's true. The weight of understanding is on the writer, not the reader.
Now, part of that is determining your audience. Different audiences won't understand the same things. Sometimes, it's a knowledge thing. Sometimes, it's a culture thing. Sometimes, it's an experience thing. I mean, you don't give War and Peace to 6th graders and tell 999 out of 1000 of them that it's their fault for not getting the book. I may be being generous with 999, there, too.
At any rate, when your audience doesn't understand, you can stubbornly stand your ground and blame your audience for just not getting it, or you can "man up" and go back to the page and figure out why you didn't get your message across. After all, it's your message, so it's your responsibility to present it in a way that people can understand.
With that being said, my post from last week, "Romanticizing Authors," failed to deliver its intended message, so let me explain. [But you'll need to go back and actually look at the post for the pictures, because I'm not including them in this post.]
I ran across a quote from the show Californication that went something like this:
"I like you; you're handsome. Most authors are these pasty, white things, but you're handsome."
Of course, I immediately thought of Nathan Fillion and Castle because of the whole dashing leading man who is a writer thing and George R. R. Martin because, well, I guess I associate him with a pasty, white thing. Then I checked on Californication, and that's also about a writer, one played by David Duchovny, so you have another inordinately handsome man playing a writer. That made me think of Stephen King who is, let's face, kind of weird looking.
All of which got me thinking: Male writers in movies (or on TV) are always played by very good looking leading men. So you take someone like Edgar Allan Poe, whose face is more than a bit rumpled looking, and you make a movie about him but have him played by John Cusack, basically an idealized version of Poe. Now, Poe's handsome. Why do we do this?
We don't do it with women playing writers. No, we get someone like Nicole Kidman, one of the most glamorous stars in Hollywood and let her play Virginia Woolf, but do we let her look like Nicole Kidman while she's doing it? No way! We make her look as much like Virginia Woolf as possible. We de-beautify her to play the female writer. We make her look plain. Or we have Lena Dunham on Girls, and she is the writer of that show! But she makes herself as unattractive as possible for her role as Hannah.
So... we make male writers look good for a viewing audience, but we make female writers look plain or normal for a viewing audience. And I have no real answer, or even thoughts, as to why that is (beyond the typical, I mean); it is just an observation, hence the post that relied on the visuals. It's something I find interesting from a cultural standpoint. Interesting and more than a little lopsided.
The truth is probably more along the lines of writers being pasty, white things. All of them. That's what comes of spending time in a cave with a notebook, whether the notebook is electronic or made of paper. And I think I would find a show about a writer that was actually about the writer doing writing rather than say, solving murders, to be very interesting. That may just be me, though.