Which Beholder's Eye?

When Notre-Dame burned in 2019, a friend said she didn’t really care because colonialism. As if the architects, artists, and artisans that took 183 years to build it (and centuries to maintain it) were the same people that set up trading posts in Senegal.

We cherish friends who disagree most of all, but I did wonder: Who is Notre-Dame for? It’s one of the greatest works of all time, yet even Notre-Dame isn’t for everybody. Some prefer St. Paul. Or St. Basil. Some would burn down all three if they could. Notre-Dame is certainly not for them.

Yet so many authors let any stray passerby’s critique throw them into fits. As if every opinion is equally valuable. But how important is the opinion of a person who doesn’t even read your genre? Or the opinion of a big brand author, if you think their work is better fit for garden mulch? Should our friend get a say in if Notre-Dame is rebuilt?

No! And we should all have the strength to say so. To ourselves, in the mirror. And to the world, through a megaphone. Your greatest work could take a 183 years to build, and if you listen to every stray passerby, you’ll never have the strength to finish. But if, on the other hand, you surround yourself with architects, artists, and artisans that understand your vision and you heed their critique, you’ll find that not even fire can keep your book from its audience for long.