Tuesday, January 20, 2015

One Man’s Meat…

… could make another man gag.

When I’m passionate about something, I often get carried away and forget that other people might not share my enthusiasm, or that perhaps they are not interested in the things I find fascinating. So it was with a sudden jolt I came down to earth recently when I showed Mr. Hubby the cucumber I had just plucked from the backyard garden. His response had been short but not sweet: ‘Not interested’.
The sole cucumber from the vine

 It felt like a slap in the face and for a moment I was stunned.
How do you react to this type of response? You could say something to elicit a better or a positive response—but I think that would make you look as though you’re begging for crumbs. Or you could shrug your shoulders, pretend you didn’t hear the unsavoury remark and (like I did) decide to finish that huge chocolate bar all by yourself.
Cucumber flower

My dear reader, I had nurtured the cucumber vine, the only one of three seedlings which had survived to maturity. I had fed the plant, watered it daily and I was really pleased when it finally bore dainty, yellow flowers. I didn’t leave the task of pollinating the flowers entirely to the ants and bees—just in case they were busy elsewhere—so I pollinated the flowers manually. Only one flower was successfully fertilized, however, and I watched the cucumber grow bigger every day and noted its colour changing from green to light brown. It was a joy to get that one cucumber squash. One cucumber is better than nothing, after all. It gave me a reason to smile and be happy and I had wanted to share that ‘happiness’. Too bad Mr. Hubby didn’t deem it ‘happy-worthy’.

The incident brought back memories of another time, another person. I had wanted to ‘share’ my book. It was of course entirely my fault for assuming that this lovely lady would be interested to read the book. You see, I have yet to meet a reader who said he hated the book—with the exception of one virtual reader but more about her later… So I thought I was being ‘helpful’ when I brought up the subject as we sat twiddling our thumbs while waiting for some health talk to begin at this senior citizens’ club.

 Me: Have you read my book?
Lovely Lady: No.
Me: Would you like to buy a copy?
Lovely Lady: I don’t read.

Now, that was as abrupt and blunt as Mr. Hubby’s “Not interested’. As I picked my jaw off the floor, I thought to myself: If I don’t read, that’s a secret known only to me and nobody else! Anyway, I didn’t know Lovely Lady well enough to feel hurt or rejected by her response or lack of interest. She just doesn’t read. End of story.
Footprints, one of the books nominated for Readers' Choice Award.s
However, it was a different story with a reader who gave my book one star out of five on a website. One star? I was taken aback. Several questions popped into my head. Would she have accorded the book zero star if there was a zero in the options? What had she expected to read? Why did my ‘stories’ fail to arouse her interest? Maybe she had wanted to know about paddy cultivation and the book didn’t meet her needs? Whatever her reason, she had every right to give her one star. I only wish I knew why so I could do better if I wrote another book.

 It is interesting to note that all the other readers gave positive comments and a few even thought the book deserved four stars. Bless their kind hearts!

I also happened to come across another site which put 'Footprints' in the list: “ten of the best books on Borneo”. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I saw the other nine books on the list.

So, one man’s meat could really be another man’s poison. Whatever we do we won't be able please everybody all the time. So we might as well stick to doing what make us happy. 

When the sun is up I’m going to plant more cucumbers.  Cheers!

1 comment:

  1. Malcolm keeps reminding me that judges (in writing competitions) are subjective, and so will be the readers. We can't please everybody but we have to please ourselves, as we continue to write what we were meant to, which gives us pleasure and hopefully the same sentiment would be shared by our readers. As the cliche goes, 'Keep calm & write on!'