It’s always interesting to learn what readers think of your work. Especially when you realize they don’t necessarily share your sense of what’s funny, sad, scary or important in your book.
Then you’re left to wonder. Could you have written it better and perhaps made your point more clear? Thought of a better example to use? Maybe a better choice of words?
Or is it simply a fact that we often laugh and cry at different things?
I recently told an audience about the infamous Victoria Day bonfires that I wrote about in my book, when the Point would almost burn to the ground every year. When I explained how, “then the riot squad would show up and ruin the party,” I thought I was being… well, funny. I thought it was a great line, perfectly illustrating the occasional wide gulf between the poor and the rich when it comes to… partying. I had been joking of course, but unfortunately no one got the joke.
I felt like a bit of an idiot though and had to force myself not to try and explain, as I was sorely tempted to do, what the joke had meant. It would have felt too much like I was begging the room to laugh at my obvious fail at humour.
I still remember my kids’ reactions when I first told them about the rats coming out of the toilets in some of the places I lived in while growing up in Point St. Charles. About how when I was a kid, I’d stomp my feet and sing to scare off any rats from crawling up the pipes. I told them about the ‘thump’ noise I’d hear coming from the bathroom sometimes, which meant a rat was hitting its head against the toilet seat and trying to escape. It didn’t seem that bizarre or interesting to me, but my kids’ reactions made me look at it in a different way.
It ended up becoming the opening of my book.