ne thing about writing – people can sure misunderstand what you say.
Perhaps you didn’t word it correctly. Or perhaps the reader came to your piece with emotions clouding his reception. Who knows? It doesn’t matter what the reason is – just know that it happens.
Recently, I wrote about a coworker playing a pretty good prank on me (HERE). It was really funny when I related it to my buddy Greg, laughing in recollection as I spooled it out. A little later, I decided to blog it up, describing it in terms of the interruption it caused to a writing night. For purposes of storytelling, I tried to capture the frustration I felt when the call came in, of turning off my word processor and logging into the work system while wondering what this crazy woman was talking about. I was trying to convey the feeling of harassment I felt in order to make my point about interruption, how it feels, what it means, and what you can do about it (knock off early, pretty much). Just like cowboys love nature and detectives are hard-bitten, writers are frustrated in moments of interruption. And that’s what I tried to project.
But Greg took it differently. After the blog shipped, he posted me, wondering what had changed. Then we had a long phone talk – how could I be so cheery about it when it happened but turn into a Dickens’ character two weeks later? I tried to explain my reasons but he wouldn’t buy them (and I think I’m going to hear about this sometime in the future, to tell you the truth). But yes, he didn’t get the whole point of my angle on the posting – he saw it as grousing. And that’s okay. It’s one of those writing things. I’m sure there were Ionians who thought that Homer slaughtered too many Trojans in his epic (actually, I’d agree).
In my defense, I’ll point out that the woman who’d pranked me (when informed that I’d blogged the incident) told all her work buddies. I came into the pod area to see that familiar parchment color glowing from three screens. So she didn’t think I was bashing her.
Goes both ways, too. I reviewed a book a while ago and didn’t understand some of the actions of characters (which sounded callously brutal). That writer stumbled over my piece and pretty much miffed me for the same crime I stand convicted of here – misunderstanding. In my defense, I’ll note that I read that section twice and still didn’t see the humor of the situation. Then again, the writer implies, the reader infers. Sometimes the two don’t couple.
All I can say to the writers out there is expect to be misunderstood from time to time. It’s going to happen. Even if you write nothing more than “It was a dark and stormy night”, there are going to be readers out there who think it’s balmy, sunny, and noon.