There is an apocryphal quote attributed to Freud: “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” There’s no evidence he ever said this, and later SNL did a skit where they substituted the word “banana” for cigar.
But it got me to thinking about stories and how we view them from different perspectives Re: writers and readers.
I was reading a web site dedicated to a writer which got me to thinking, and remembering, how often I have seen things like this in many other areas, especially book reviews. Mostly it is especially directed toward well known or popular writers but sometimes amateurs get dinged on it, too.
Very often readers misinterpret or deconstruct a story in ways the writer never intended. Or they subscribe certain beliefs toward the writer when all he was really doing was just telling a story.
I understand why this happens. All the writer does is write the story. That’s a pretty hard lift in itself as you know. But once you write the story you are done. What you intended or what you meant by your story may or may not be seen by subsequent readers.
Because the reader brings his own life perspective and makes the story his. There’s nothing you can do about that and you shouldn’t want to do anything about it. The reader isn’t wrong in his interpretation. It may not be what you intended, but that’s not the reader’s fault. It’s not your fault, either, as a writer. That’s part of the organic process, the subtle give and take between writer and reader. We’ve all experienced it to some degree on both sides of the fence, I think.
So it’s very natural the reader might perceive elements within the story that were never originally intended by the author in the first place. He might deconstruct the story in ways you never thought possible or viable or reasonable. He also might see relationships and connections in the story that are there, but which you missed completely.
It got me to thinking about all this and the dynamic that plays itself out between writer and reader. To be sure some readers completely miss the point. Then again so do some writers. But that subtle interchange between thought and process and mental integration on both sides never fails to fascinate me.
It’s an intricate puzzle. Maybe someday I will be able to figure it out.