Mike Robison/ WA & FL <firstname.lastname@example.org> asks:
> Joe, Reading some of the other messages in this section,(some
> quite old, by now) concerning academic interpertations of a
> writers' work, I was wondering if any of "us" out here in
> cyberspace have read anything into your works that were not
> intended to be there when you wrote them, but, upon being pointed
> out to you, you can now see that it does, in fact, have the
> meaning that was "discovered"? IOW, are there deeper meanings in
> your work that even you don't see at times?
Nothing at all insulting in the question. It's a hard one to
address, but I'll give it a shot.
Harlan says, when someone comes up to you and says, "Listen,
when I read your story, I saw you had structured the whole thing around
the Jungian notion of inner conflict vs. external conflict, and...."
that the proper response is, "Absolutely, and you're the first person
to figure that out," whether it's true or not. Let them think you're
an utter genius. (This was, obviously, somewhat tongue in cheek, but
there's some truth there, I think.)
Generally, some of the "deeper meanings" attached to the work
are less a product of what's written, as what's perceived and how it's
perceived; it's a function of what you, the viewer, bring to the table.
In that respect, a good story is like a Rohrscarch test (and I think I
just hideously misspelled that).
Some of the hidden meanings or subtext (the more proper term, I
think) are deliberately set in place during the writing process.
And there are some that slip past me, when I get ambushed by my
own subsconscious. Often I'm working something through myself at the
time, or going through something, and when I'm not looking, the writing
part of my brain shoots it out onto the page. Then, afterward,
sometimes minutes later or months later, I'll look at it and suddenly
realize what was going through my mind at the time, and realize I've
given away more of myself than I had intended. It's an awkward
feeling...like coming home from a party and discovering that your fly
was undone the whole time. There are times I'd like nothing more than
to take my subsconscious out and give it a *really* good thwacking when
it does this to me.
Sometimes those meanings are very personal ones, sometimes more
general in nature, trying to figure out stuff. The only way to stop it
is to ride herd on the part of your brain that does the writing, making
sure nothing slips past you...but then it becomes a more mechanical
process. As a writer, you learn to listen to the small, tiny voice in
the back of your head and trust it, that it knows where it's going even
if the logical part of your brain does not. You have to get rid of the
gatekeeping, get rid of what you were taught writing is supposed to be,
get rid of what you think others want to hear from you, get rid of
*everything* that gets in the way and overpowers that small voice.
If you do that correctly, then you are *always* surprised by
what comes out, which is necessary; if you cannot surprise yourself,
you have no chance of surprising an audience.