Writing: Greater meaning inside? Um, suurrree...

Saturday, June 16, 2012
Yeah, the picture basically says it all. *LOL* I can't tell you how many classes I sat in during high school and college, trying to decipher meaning from a story. As a student, I often wondered if the teacher was full of bullpucky.

As a writer, I can honestly admit that usually, when I say the curtains are blue (if I even go so far as to say it) then that means I just happened upon blue in my mental movie projecting the words onto the page. It might just as easily have been pink or red or vertical blinds instead of curtains.

I rarely set out telling a story thinking to myself, "Now, the symbolism and theme of this story are going to be..."

Yeah, no.

I want to tell a yarn. I want to hold the reader's attention for a couple of hours or longer. I want the reader to close the book feeling like they got their money's worth, and wanting to get my next book. (I think it was Mickey Spillane who is credited with saying the first chapter sells your book, the last chapter sells your next book.) Sure, after the fact, I can sometimes go back in my rewrite and see things that I can enhance, but they are usually points that emerged organically as part of the storytelling process.

I try not to put in a lot of extra filler. Alfred Hitchcock said something to the effect of movies are life with the dull parts cut out. I am not a reader who likes a lot of extraneous details, and as a writer, I tend to avoid them. I might want to set a mood, but I rarely get overblown unless there's a deliberate reason for me to do so.

There are plenty of artsy-fartsy writers out there who look down their noses at commercial writers. Many of those people are unpublished writers. You know what? That's fine. They can look down their noses at me all they like. They aren't my audience. I write first for myself. If I'm happy with it, then I can pretty much guarantee an audience for that book will follow. I write because it's who I am as well as what I do. I'm just lucky enough I get to do what I love. And I write to entertain, to tell a story. If someone wants to read a deeper message into something I've written, they can knock themselves out.

Sometimes, however, a cigar is just a cigar. And the damn blue curtains might not have even crossed my mind when writing the scene, it was just something that flowed onto the page in the process. So don't stress yourself trying to come up with a deeper meaning.

I can tell you from experience, most authors are just happy that you enjoyed the book.

5 reader comments:

  1. Vanessa said...:

    Thankyou! what a relief that I can take the meaning of a book as to what the words say and I dont have to wonder if they really meant something else. Sometimes my brain is just too tired for deep thinking when reading. [smile]

  1. Anonymous said...:

    Thank you, Thank you!!! Now I can explain to my 8 year old what the author really means without her thinking that she has not done her book review with enough in-depth meaning or thought :D Maybe, I should give your FB page to her very conservative English teacher (hee, hee).
    Regards
    Lise

  1. SusieJ said...:

    Wonderful!! I read to be entertained not to have have to second guess and wonder.."What did the writer mean by that..?"
    Thank you !!
    Hugs xx

  1. Kimberly said...:

    I was horrible at all that symbolism stuff in high school English. It's a story, and the story either rocks me, or it doesn't. Your books rock me. :-)

    Kimberly

  1. Thanks, everyone. :) I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I mean sure, you can always find symbolism in things, but unless it's a literary book, chances are it wasn't deliberately placed there. Maybe sometimes, but instead of worrying about what it means, just organically enjoy reading the book and the story and don't sweat it. You can always go back later if you want to try to glean greater, deeper meaning from it, but don't stress over it.