Saturday, April 6, 2013

Chapter One

Yesterday, I asked you to share with me your thoughts about what was going on in the watercolor of the old-fashioned typewriter I posted. Those who responded in one of the five venues where the blog feeds ran were all--drum roll please--absolutely correct.

No, this wasn’t one of those middle school events where everyone with a pulse gets a trophy. It was just a little example of how an image, written or illustrated, will say different things to different people. We are all products of our experiences. They shape us uniquely.

If Stephen King is correct that writing is telepathy, then it is imperfectly so. With my writing, and my art, I try to take something from my mind and put it into yours. If we are sympatico, then I have succeeded. But, what if we’re not? Does that mean that I have failed? Does it mean you have failed?

No more so than we do in everyday communication. If an idea is transmitted imperfectly, well, we should be used to that. It happens every time we pick up a pen or part our lips to speak.

I am not a fan of spicy food, so I sometimes mention to my lovely wife that something she has prepared--while undeniably wonderful--is a tad too hot for me. She always takes umbrage at this, invariably telling me there is nothing in the food that would make it “hot.” Do you see the futility of this continuing conversation? Her idea of “hot” and my idea are simply not the same.

Now, expand that difference in understanding by 100,000 words, each of which we have our own meaning for, and it is really a miracle that we often enjoy the same books.

When I write, my success is not the perfect understanding of my readers. It is in the enjoyment they get from the way I have made the words work. If they come away from the book with some small, new insight, so much the better.

Oh, and who came closest to what I was aiming for with that illustration? Probably Jessica Moyer. I’ve never met Jessica, but she has been a loyal reader for years.

But, as I said, everyone else had the right answer, too. Their right answer.

By the way, the watercolor is titled “Chapter One.”

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