Sunday, August 25, 2013
Not What I Meant When I Wrote That, But Okay...We Can Go There
As a youngster, I saw my teacher as all knowing, thinking that the smart educators could see inside the minds of authors. I was the novice, eager to learn how to become so wise as to speak the language of authors.
Then I matured. In college, teachers told students to come up with an interpretation of the piece. We didn't have to find a consensus. In a class of twenty, it was okay to have twenty answers. At first the thrill was being unique, showing I possessed an intelligence wise enough to see the world differently. We were all about being different when I was in college. Anything outside the mold was cool.
But in my search for the best interpretation of a piece, I began to wonder what the author would think about us and all our presumptions of what went through his mind as he penned his stories. Then I started seeing the exercise as pure crap, no longer fun. It was a game as to who could BS the best and make it sound savvy and smart on paper.
The author wrote what he thought at a point in his life. It's really that simple. He didn't ponder how many ways he could be understood. He didn't write his story to be picked apart into twenty different expositions. I wasn't sure authors like being placed under a microscope and diagnosed. I wanted to read the story to be entertained and enlightened. How the author achieved that end with me was between us. I didn't care what he meant, and he probably couldn't care less how I read it. Just as long as we both enjoyed our journey.
So . . . imagine how I reacted when I made appearances and people started dissecting my mysteries? Someone mentioned how the store keeper was a suspected nemesis of the antagonist. Oh my goodness, I never thought of that once as I wrote and edited that chapter. Readers told me their suspicions that never crossed my mind in the book's creation. But I saw one thing...readers had fun trying to identify the red herrings from the real clues. And as they explained their interpretations of what I meant, I smiled, wishing I'd thought of that. Maybe I had, subconsciously. Who knew?
I believe I've matured yet again, with a new understanding of the art of storytelling. It's not how exact we are in the understanding of an author's delivery. It's the fact the author gave us a tool to make us think. The more we feel the need to think about the true meaning of a story and its pieces, the more we own the story, the more we love the story, and the more we appreciate the author of that story. And the reality of what was meant by the author at a particular point in time means little in the grand yet simple scheme of telling a good story that a reader enjoys becoming a part of.