This will be a bit disjointed. there are several different, unrelated tales from the past week which make me somewhat sensitive tot he perception versus reality barrier.
Yesterday I was in Eugene visiting family and there were two subjects which came up in separate conversations which really made me wonder how it is people come by their perceptions when they so clearly differ from the reality.
The first surrounds my first novel. In conversation I discovered one person had decided to not read the book because it was 'just like Fifty Shades.' Um, wow. So clearly wrong 9it makes me wonder just what people do when reading. Do they simply skim a chapter or two, get to something about sex and stop because they think that is the purpose of the book? Are we sheltered enough in our reading to not understand the differences?
If one wants to criticize the style - I get it. I wrote the book using stream of consciousness thoughts in many places; unique sentence structure and narrative points. I used unexpected plot concepts and even threw in some poetry. Not everyone will like those forms of writing technique and that is just the price of creating something which is supposed to resemble art. But please, never make the assumption that any book which contains sexual scenes is somehow erotica or the equivalent of Fifty Shades.
The truth is that the protagonist from Middle of Nothing is designed as an 'anti Christian Grey' of sorts. In fact, he is actually designed as the anti-James Salter protagonist. I love the stories that Salter weaves, but found myself wanting a more sympathetic lead character. I wanted a character who did not want to be a misogynistic ass; a character who wanted to learn and grow away from this lifestyle. But clearly in order to do that, I had to create the internal conflict of a man who acted in a manner which did not suit his self image. I had to have some sexual content in order to craft the picture of a sexual compulsive who wants to live a different life.
So, if you do not like the writing style - I get that - but don't turn away from a book because you want everything to be sunshine and rainbows. The only way we can move forward as a human race is to learn what the rest of the world lives like rather than our own little cocoon.
Which then brings me to the second conversation which was refreshing. Oftentimes I see the concept that this nation has "equal opportunity" and it has been very difficult for me to explain to similarly situated friends and family that this is simply not true. The fact that two people have a public school to go to does not mean that each is afforded the same opportunity. It was refreshing to hear someone who had long believed inner-city youth had equal opportunity finally start to realize that this is simply not true. Go to an inner city school and examine not just the curriculum, but the actual resources available to the teachers like text books, work books, computers, and audio visual equipment and then go to a suburban Portland school and tell me that the kids in the inner city have the same access to education. Until we find a way to create true equal opportunity for inner city youth, we will continue to struggle with the racial divide.
I was raised with a different opportunity than are many of our nations inner-city youth. I am lucky.
The last thing which struck me this week regarding perception versus reality is my own perception versus that of others.
I have been on a long journey to change my health. Everyone knows about my significant changes (I am now down 60+ pounds and weigh close to my college playing weight). I look in the mirror and see a "skinny" man. My wife looks at me now as a "skinny" man as do most people who know me. Thursday night, though, I stopped at the gas station on my way home from the gym and the attendant began to ask me questions about lifting. In his eyes, I was not some "skinny" guy, but someone who obviously lifted weights and was in great shape.
And see, I just do not see myself like that because I am not the "biggest" or "strongest" guy in most rooms as I used to be. When I look in the mirror now I see a somewhat average looking joe blow. And yet others still see me the way I used to see myself. That was eye opening.