I recently had a long discussion with Captain Film Major about how to respond to people disliking certain works in your oeuvre or in your genre. I tend not to take personally when someone doesn't like books I like or books in my genre. He, when it comes to cinema, sometimes does.
One sticking point that came up for us is that Captain Film Major said that he wanted people to like the movies that inspired him or movies of the sort he wanted to write, because he thought that if they didn't like those movies, then they wouldn't like his.
My reaction to that statement was something along the lines of, "But, your friends don't need to like your work. Your friends should like you."
That's when we reached the central focus of our disagreement. To sum up his response: "My work is me."
Okay, here's my deal: As far as I'm concerned, my work isn't me. My work is something I put a lot of time and effort into, and it is something I am passionate about. It represents my thought processes, my decision-making, and my struggling. Sometimes, it even represents some of my recollections. It does not, though, as far as I'm concerned, represent me.
How could it be me, after all? I'm not my MC(s). I'm not any of the other people either. There is no writer's cameo in my work.
I understand that others might have a different view. It is hard not to become strongly tied to one's creative work. It's not uncommon for an MS to represent the blood, sweat, and tears of a novelist. (Although, personally, I'm hoping it wasn't a tremendous amount of blood. And, really, if there's any blood, I'm hoping it's your own, because otherwise, that would be creepy.) However, I do flatter myself that I've found a healthy reaction to my work.
I don't think people should their work be them or themselves be their work. I've seen people put themselves into that place where all of their life was about one thing they did. Then, when someone rejected that one thing, that one aspect of their life, the person took it hard, because it felt like someone had rejected all of who they are.
I am not just one thing. I am not just my book(s). I am a friend. A daughter. A sister. A twin. A thespian. An American (and sometimes a Canadian). I am a cousin. A niece. A student. A listener. A speaker. A thinker. A doer.
I am not just a writer. And I don't think you are either. You are more than your books. You are you.
For other related reading, I recommend *Fiction Groupie*'s post. Click here.
Do you ever have trouble separating yourself from your work? Do you feel it's necessary to separate yourself from it?