One of the curious things about writing a book, and getting feedback on your book, is the translation that occurs between the writer and the reader. As the writer, I would like to think I have the ultimate authority on what my book means…at least I always thought so.
I was discussing background information about one of the characters in the story with my father, when he interrupted me by vehemently insisting that it was not like that at all. I tried to defend my point with the argument that “I wrote the damn thing, and so I ought to know!” But a heated ‘discussion’ still ensued, until we finally both realised how ridiculous the conversation was and started to laugh.
I think I found and read the sentence that explained the point too him, but he was still adamant that it implied a different truth.
My father remains convinced that he was right!
I later talked to my husband about the ‘discussion’ I had with my father, and then he stated that neither of us were right, and something else entirely was obviously the case!!!
Which brought me to the conclusion that…
a) I am either a terrible writer, and no one can ascertain a damn thing from reading my words.
b) That particularly implied information, or even seemingly unambiguous information, is subjective, and as readers we layer over the top of it our own truths of life and so may come to completely different conclusions.
To avoid feeling depressed about my lack of writing prowess, I am going to assume b 🙂
I think particularly the words the characters say can be open to interpretation, but also their actions as well. And I have seen a few heated threads on book forums where readers thrash out opinions on what they think events or conversations in their favourite books mean.
So, has a reader ever argued with you about what happened or what something meant in your book? 🙂