Monday, 7 June 2010

MEANINGS AND CONTROL

I am away this week so I am taking the easy option by drawing your attention to a relevant post on my Wasted blog here.

As well as the points I make there, about control, power and the themes of Wasted, I find it interesting and important how very often readers will take meanings that are different from those we intended.

We mustn't be upset by that. I'm certainly not.

Only a very shallow book would have only one meaning. Only a shallow writer would have such a simple theme that there was no room for the reader's mind to go down some different paths of thought, because if a book has rich characters those characters will have rich minds, and, when readers enter those minds properly, they will live those lives beyond the pages of the book.

The deeper the book, the more opportunities for readers to take different interpretations. On the other hand, if many readers took the completely opposite meaning from the writer's intended one, either the writer would have failed to express the meaning properly, or the wrong readers would have found the book.

Once the book is out there, however, it belongs to the readers as much as to the writer and we must give up control.

After all, without readers there would be no book, and therefore no meaning at all.

So, I worship at the feet of readers. Even when they get it wrong!

THIS WEEK, I'm in London, talking at Bishop Challoner's School about Wasted, and then speaking at a conference in Berkshire about young people and risk-taking. I should also be writing, and if I don't I will be behind on a certain deadline and Emma at Snowbooks would be cross with me. So, I probably won't be able to do much commenting, but I will be watching you. I am always watching you.

4 comments:

catdownunder said...

Oh goody...Ms Morgan is away for the week (but don't believe her about the work bit she has really gone shoe shopping)...come on mice!

Amanda Acton said...

As a fine arts student, I am constantly reminded that the artwork does not belong to the artist. It is the viewer (in this case the reader) that brings the work to life. Your desire for what the work should represent is only one side of the story as the viewer brings with them a completely different set of life experiences and therefore, a different way of interpreting and understanding things.

The English Writer said...

Thank you so much for that, a few months back, someone reviewed my book and ripped it apart. For a while I felt really upset about it, but then I realised it was the wrong book for him, and the meaning he wanted in the book wasn't there - your past helps reassure and also help a little with that 'thick skin'.

Redleg said...

Burgess seemed really, really upset about this particular problem with A Clockwork Orange. I guess he had a very strong point about free will that he felt everybody who had ever read the book had misinterpreted. Odd, that.