1. simina
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    simina Senior Member

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    Are you frustrated when people don't "get"

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by simina, Feb 20, 2013.

    what you had originally intended in your writing?

    Or do you appreciate and embrace new interpretations?

    Because for me: nothing, absolutely nothing, makes me feel more fulfilled than a lengthy, passionate interpretation of my writing which turns out to be radically different from anything I'd ever intended. It's as though my words have somehow acted as hangers for another person's soul. Their significance is reborn. If every person who reads my writing only births the exact same meaning onto its syllables which I have myself birthed, then the writing has only lived once. It's only me. And that isn't nearly as exciting as having it be hundreds of people, or thousands. I'm thrilled language is as ambiguous and hopelessly subjective as it is.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. BitPoet
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    BitPoet Member

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    If what I'm trying to write and what people understand are two completely different shoes, then I've done something wrong. It might be ok to some extent for poetry, where toying around with ambiguity is often a foremost motivation, but not for prose where I want to develop a story and give insight into my characters. That old saying about apes, a typewriter and the bible comes to mind. There's a difference between words having different nuances for each reader and the whole thing becoming something else. I have experienced those radically different interpretations of my writing over the years, and in each case where it happened, I had to say sorry, that's not what I've been trying to write, you're over-interpreting things because I simply didn't put that much thought into each word. Yes, it's alluring to give in to such reviews and believe that there are all kinds of hidden purposes in ones own writing, but the plain truth is that even bad writing will find its group of romanticizing fans.
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I don't expect my readers to have the same interpretation I do. I feel that in order to completely understand everything I've written, my readers would have had to have the exact same experiences I had. It would also be very boring if everyone had the same interpretation. So I completely embrace new interpretations (within reason), and I understand where you're coming from.
     
  4. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Of course I expect my readers to understand my words, my sentences, and so on as I do. I expect them to understand my characters and the sequences of events I describe in my stories as I do. I do not, however, expect my stories to have the same meaning to all of my readers as they have to me.

    We all have different experiences, different backgrounds, maybe different value systems. Therefore, we all see worlds through different lenses and filters; worlds (the real world and every fictional world) appear different to each one of us. The plight of a character in a given story might move me to tears, but have my roommate laughing. Some young people find it easy to identify with Holden Caulfield because he expresses a kind of angst they share, whereas some of their parents may think all Holden needs is a good kick in the pants and a job to teach him some responsibility.

    So, yeah, I expect people to interpret what I write differently from the way I meant it, and I welcome that. It teaches me that people are different, and that they're able to think for themselves. And it teaches me humility.
     
  5. davidheath23
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    davidheath23 Member

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    The only time I would get "frustrated" with someone not understanding my work is if they were making mistaken on things that were supposed to be fact (IE: the gender of a character, very basic plot details, what kind of physical enviornment people are in, etc.)

    This does not apply to emotional states of attached significance though. A friend of mine at work read one of my longer stories a few weeks ago, and gave me his long-winded review about all of the religious symbolism and connections to biblical ideals that he saw. In reality though, none of what we said was a consideration when writing it. So the question is...did he look into it too deeply? Did I subconsiously put these things in there? Does it matter?

    I don't think it does. People can (and should) find their own meaning in the deeper messages of your writing.
     
  6. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    As long as they can follow the story I dont really care about their interpretation.
     
  7. popsprocket
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    popsprocket Member

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    Depends on how complex or round about what I was trying to convey was. If I'm trying to convey something in a way that's not straight forward then I won't be frustrated that the reader didn't understand. But if it's a simple concept then I've obviously done something wrong.
     
  8. iolair
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    iolair Active Member

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    I agree completely. If you don't get what I meant then either I didn't communicate in a way that effectively reaches my target audience - or you're not part of my target audience.

    What they 'take' from the story may be more personal, however.
     
  9. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I once got a review that went into great detail about the metaphorics in a story - and I read through it in awe. I couldn't believe I'd written such beautifully symbolic story! I'm still not sure I did - but that reader thought so and I'm more than happy not to dissuade her of that.
     
  10. Fivvle
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    Fivvle Contributing Member

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    One thing I've learned about reading is that it is always a slightly different experience for everyone. Your own personal experiences and beliefs will always shape what you read into something that fits into your own world better. Sometimes, depending on the person, the meaning of something will be radically altered from what the author intended. I would say that this doesn't happen very often, and only in very ambiguous pieces of writing.
    But I think that that's one of the profound things about writing. Whatever you put down on paper is going to be interpreted by each reader in a slightly (or even radically) different way.
     
  11. alexa_
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    alexa_ Banned

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    I think that the people's mind is so multi-folded that hardly everyone can interpretate definite ideas in the same way. On the other hand, I'm extremely pleased when a eader catches the main line I've put into my piece.
     
  12. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Once you find out that that novel is also at least partly about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Holden Caulfeild suddenly becomes very sympathetic I find. He seen a flatmate kill himself - the novel can also be read as a failed search for meaning.

    As for the original question: it can be annoying, but I always blame myself more than I blame any reader.
     
  13. AchiraC
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    AchiraC Member

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    As a writer, I think the only time I'd be annoyed is when people take what I've written and twist it to fit their own ideas. History is filled with examples of writings being used as proof or propaganda for arguably 'bad' ideologies. To me, that would be unbearable. If people want to see different things in your writings than what you thought to put in there, that is fine and even logical.

    As a reader, however, I strive to never try to state anything about the intentions of the writer. The most annoying part of literary study was having to interpret poems and stories and to extrapolate what a writer meant. But how can I possibly know that? Sure, there would be some things you could infer, but the whole meaning? I always imagine poets and writers sitting in their rooms laughing their asses off as we speculate about deeper layers of meaning in some words that were never intended to have any ulterior meaning. I know don't put any specific meaning into my writings, but I do see the potential of other people finding it. And yes, I will be laughing - quietly, in private - if people find meanings in my work if it's ever published.
     
  14. jwideman
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    jwideman Senior Member

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    One review of my book said that it had harsh mood shifts. They felt a little bruised from getting bounced around, but overall enjoyed the book. Which actually was my goal. I appreciated the honest review, but did feel disappointed that they didn't "get" what I was doing. But then I realized that this was because I hid the puppet strings well, so to speak.
     

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