Sunday, April 7, 2013


As an engineer, subjectivity is one of the hardest things for me to wrap my head around. I fully understand that people like what they like and they won't and can't possibly like everything. The trouble emerges when one person says one thing and someone else says the exact opposite. You're darned if you do and darned if you don't which makes it infinitely difficult to find a suitable result. Because that's what engineers do, we find reasonable answers. Even if the answer is, there isn't one.

Growing up we are taught that most things have one right answer. 1+1 = 2 not 5 not 0 not -1 but 2 and 2 alone. As we grow, we learn that sometimes there isn't just one right answer, there could be many, or even an infinite number of them. There's even grey area, partially right, and mostly there. And sometimes the right answer is that there isn't a possible explanation in the realm of our planetary physics. While that too was tough to resign myself to, I learned to accept it.

But subjectivity is a whole other ball of confusion. It's difficult to look at something and say it's darn near grammatically perfect, it's a great idea, and has a good foundation but it's not right for person X, Y, or Z. So in a world where no two people like the exact same things, how do you cater to different individuals likes? The answer is you don't, you can't, and you shouldn't.

As a writer, I have to learn to turn off my analytical, engineer brain sometimes. I have to decide with my heart and my gut, what of other people's preferences resonate with me and ignore what doesn't. At the end of the day, a writer has to be happy with the finished product, subjectivity or not.

While subjectivity is a tough thing to swallow, it shouldn't be what defines us as writers. Although it's a giant part of the business, it isn't everything. There will always be people who don't like your stuff. But there will also be people who more than like it, they may in fact love it. And that's where you can embrace subjectivity. Find the people that get your story and your message and then all the sudden, subjectivity doesn't seem like something to wrestle with anymore.

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