To anyone who read something nasty into the title: SHAME ON YOU!
The purpose of the foregoing is to demonstrate how the words one writes, and how readers interpret those words, are often not the same thing.
My now-famous (chuckle and pat on own back) Battles On the Homefront (A Mother’s Tale) post was meant as a memorial to my own mother, as well as to my daughter’s boyfriend, both of whom had died shortly before that post was written.
A certain family member (who shall remain nameless because I was really ticked at him that person) commented to me that I might want to avoid publicizing such “intimate details” of my life.
Now, I know from at least one of my readers that my mother was not the only “Rosalie” in the world. And I’m also pretty sure that our “Dan” was not the only 28-year-old in the world to succumb to some form of cancer. Therefore:
NOTE TO SIGNIFICANT OTHER MISGUIDED FAMILY MEMBER:
Lighten up already!
But all that got me to thinking.
I’ve noticed that not all my readers are interpreting my posts the same way I meant when I wrote them. I’ve occasionally received comments that seemed to have nothing whatsoever to do with what I was trying to say.
For instance, while I truly appreciate the generosity of the reader who offered to help me set up a fundraiser after my Poor Cordelia (Literally) post ran on Cordelia’s blog site, that post was not a cry for help – it was merely meant as a lighthearted look at the extremes a mother would go to in order to ease her child’s difficulties.
I believe that reader did, in fact, understand that I was (at least on some level) joking – but her offer seemed totally sincere; perhaps she is a mother herself and read some truth in my words of which I was unaware? Like many of my posts (apparently), that is open to interpretation.
I even ran into this differing viewpoint problem with a guest post I sent to Cordelia. While she claimed to like the first draft of my Why I Write and Will Continue to Write post, she kept avoiding publishing it. Finally, I asked if there was a problem with it, and she reluctantly admitted that she thought it was “too negative.”
At one point in that draft, I wrote that I didn’t care if no one liked my posts. Cordelia seemed to interpret that as meaning that I didn’t have confidence in my own abilities, while what I thought I said was that I intended to write my own stories, my own way, without having to slant my words to please others. I meant that some posts might be a little upsetting or controversial, and that I didn’t care if no one liked my posts as long as they read them.
It was supposed to be an “in your face” kind of declaration, and to me, at least, it succeeded superbly.
So, I re-read my own draft and finally had to agree with Cordelia that I had worded some parts of it very poorly. I tweaked it a bit to make it stronger, and Cordelia (at that time, my own personal reviewer and advisor) came to like Why I Write and Will Continue to Write enough to post it.
And then there are those readers who like and understand what I’ve written, but seem surprised by their own reactions to my words.
My absolute favorite reader response so far was one which an extended family member posted on my private Facebook page, after reading Battles on the Homefront (A Mother’s Tale). She commented:
If I am able to make someone cry just from reading my words, I’m a better writer than I ever hoped to be.
Although, I’d really rather make people chuckle or sigh.
What I don’t want to do, and hope I have never done, is bore people to tears (well, except for Legal-Shmegal, of course).
So – comments of any kind are good, people – but please let me know if my posts are unclear or not up to my usual excellent standards. I welcome all input and strive to make my blog as close to perfection as possible.
As always, I love to hear from my readers: firstname.lastname@example.org