My writing is intensely personal. Sometimes I want to explore a theme or idea. Sometimes I’m writing through an emotion (usually panic). Sometimes I write for control. Always, my writing process is 100% about me.
But my writing is not so self centered. After the first explosion of words, I read. If there’s value, I edit and revise the work to best stress what’s good. For example: I wrote Nimgauana’s Undertaking because I was afraid after the election of Donald Trump. I kept revising and working on the story because I enjoyed the message of hope in the face of cruelty.
Blood Moon also shares post election desperation. This short work rocks because it features a female character owning her own persona. In “Blood Moon” I hope others get a taste of the emotional state living next door to darkness and danger may provoke.
Many things inspired Follow Me: Tattered Veils. It central action comes from a dream. While ruminating over the dream, thinking of the full possibilities of that dream if played out, I saw how much I missed writing, and I realized how miserable I was in a job stealing over 60 hours a week from me. I wrote Follow Me to take back my identity and to find my joy again. Imagine my surprise when I shared parts of it and realized I wasn’t the only one who thought it was good. My book could be so much more than my escape and that made me want things for it. I think loving something like this and wanting others to see what I love in it, has to be deeply personal.
But Follow Me: Tattered Veils is about to live in two worlds. On one side lie my hours of work, my emotions, my intentions, my joy and heartache. On the other side, are the readers and they won’t have any relation to me or my book except for a cover (someone else designs) and a back of the book description.
It’s like my book is all grown up and going on blind dates.
This isn’t a plea for readers to be kind to my book. Part of what’s exciting about releasing a published work is hearing feedback on something that’s lived alone in my head for so long. It’s more an essay on how a book can mean something specific to its authorand readers can and should get something different when they read it. To me, this is a cool phenomenon I don’t think we explore enough.
Both readers and writers shut down the conversation by arguing who has the “right” to assign meaning to a work. Readers will tell a writer “if you meant X you should have been more clear.” and writers retort with “I wrote the thing, I know it’s meaning.”
Let’s end the debate on who has a right to interpret the book. We’re both correct.
As the writer, I created Follow Me: Tattered Veils and I could do a chapter by chapter review of what each line means and why it’s there. I could tell you about all the other options I considered and why I discarded them. While those kinds of conversations are interesting, they are not the definitive end all be all to what Follow Me: Tattered Veils could mean.
How do I know this?
As a reader, I’ve created essays on meanings of other people’s books. I’ve gone chapter by chapter, line by line sighting how they built point x or built in a secondary plot y. People bring their own viewpoint and life experience with them to any piece of fiction. This combined with the words an author provided makes its own truth.
And I can’t wait for Follow Me: Tattered Veils to go on that second journey. We’ve traveled together for so long, but our paths are about to diverge. While I work on my next story, I’ll look at a parallel road and see “Follow Me: Tattered Veils” traveling with new companions, and experiencing unknown response. It creates a butterfly feeling in me that’s not quite joy or fear.
What do you think? Does an author release their “right” to the end all be all interpretation when they release their work? How you you see reader feedback, is it meant for reader and writer to build something together, is it meant only for other readers, is it something else all together? Published authors/creators: what is your relationship with your readers/viewers? Does their interpretation of you work affect what you do next or how you approach other projects? Does it change how you feel about your own work?
Do your feelings on the viewer’s rights/abilities to interpret creative work change based on the media (painting, sculpture, movie)? Does who the person is affect their right to create meaning from a story?