Blog Post Number 34 Written: 06-25-2021 Uploaded : 09-23-22
When you publish a book, it is no longer yours. It might have your name on it, you might own the rights to it, but once it’s on the shelves, it belongs to the public.
They read it, they formulate their own opinions about it, they determine what it means. It doesn’t matter what you intended it to mean, it’s going to mean something different to every person who reads it. That interpretation has nothing to do with you the author, or the words you wrote, but rather the way the people feel about those words.
Your opinion about your book, your intentions, don’t matter anymore. The readers are going to tell you what it means. Which scenes and plot points are important. It’s going to be out of your control. Much like raising a child. You nurture it, you give it advice, you watch it grow, you mold it, you push it along in one direction or another, but when it leaves the nest, it’s out of your control. It will grow and interact with the world, and the world with it. That is just something you have to accept. If you can’t accept that, don’t publish it.
This is something that was explained to me in a meeting with other writers, but I have to a lesser extent seen it first hand as people leave reviews for The Descendant on amazon. As the beta readers give me feedback. They make connections I have never intended or even imagined. They will ask you hard questions, questions you can’t answer. They will make you develop more lore and backstory on the fly to try and answer those questions, and on the whole, I think this is a good thing. It helps make the universe more organic and fleshed out, answer those questions, use it for your world building. Make it deeper, bigger, fuller. Your writing, your book, your universe ( if it is not a stand-alone novel) will be richer, more colorful for it.
Your readers are going to tell you, you are wrong, even though you wrote it, you’re wrong, because they don’t see it the way you intended, they’re going to ship the wrong couple, get the wrong meaning, think the wrong person is the main character or the antagonist. You’ll just have to live with that, that your book is a flexible breathing thing that is subject to change at the will of the readers.
To me, that’s part of the fun. Just seeing the weird ways people make connections, trying to understand how they think, the funny conclusions they’re going to jump to, it’s all in good fun. Don’t be uptight about it, relax, have a good time and see where the reader’s rivers take you. You never know, you might get an idea, learn something useful that will help you in the next book, the next chapter, or what have you. Just don’t fight it, enjoy the process, have a good time. writing is fun. (depending on how you want to interpret that as the reader, that last sentence may or may not be sarcastic. This could be heartfelt and supportive, or sarcastic and gripeing. You decide.)