That story. I do not think it means what you think it means.

I got a rejection–I know, inconceivable–this week. It was from one of those markets that likes to throw in a little critique with its no-thank-you. These are useful, since I often gain some insight into a problem with the story. This time though…

This time was annoying. Because the critique went something like this– I think you wanted to say A, but what you really ended up saying was B.

Thing is, I didn’t want to say A, and I really didn’t mean to say B. This kind of thing drives me nuts. I hate it when I fail to convey the point of a story, but the thing is, it happens. People will read something I’ve done, and some of them will get it, no problem, and others will get something else, something completely different then what I meant.

This happens in stories that I sell, too. I’ll look at the comments or reviews, and see people coming away from the work with vastly different impressions than I meant them to have. Thing is, it often doesn’t effect their enjoyment of the work. Some still love it, some still don’t, and me? I sit in the background, fretting about how I can’t perfectly communicate with every single person, with all their different backgrounds and experiences, at once.

Yay, writer angst.

Anyway, I’ve come to realize this is just part of the experience. Stories need to have meanings, but those meanings are going to be buried amongst the plot and characters. Make them explicit, and you’ve gone from writing a story to a fable. Because those meanings are obscured, they won’t be seen exactly the same by everyone. In the end, this is actually a cool thing. Stories change over time, shifting as the reader changes. This is how they live.

Still…

You thought I wanted to say A? You thought I really ended up saying B?

That still drives me nuts.

(Of course, I suppose I could just be misreading the critique…)

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