It took my twenty-something daughter, who is wise beyond her years and has an artist’s soul, to remind me of artistic integrity.
I was in a quandary over what to do with some suggestions my literary agent made, whom I respect and adore, about a new manuscript I had sent her.
What I have learned over the years is that if you give a manuscript to a dozen different readers, they will come up with a dozen different suggestions on how to make the story better. And what I’ve also learned is that there are some opinions that you trust more than others. These opinions are usually from people who are professionals (like literary agents and editors) who make a living in the service of stories and/or they are people who read a tremendous amount and intrinsically know what makes a story good.
But still, even those trusted professionals and/or avid readers sometimes say something that doesn’t quite mesh with what the writer envisions. And here’s where my daughter, Krista, comes in. When I confessed my latest dilemma, her advice was perfect:
“I think this one comes down to artistic integrity. These are YOUR characters, YOUR story, YOUR baby—follow your heart on this one and make sure you love the result.”
Well, you can see why I’m proud. This is sage advice I can pass on to every writer and artist. Sure, there is a need to be flexible and humble and not turn down good suggestions when they are given. But you are responsible for this particular creation and to that end, your artistic integrity must be at the core of every decision. So get some good input and then follow your heart.