|The crow symbolizes chocolate, |
It seemed so brazen of the professor to shut the author up like that. I wrestled with that tale in my mind for a long time.
Eventually I came to love what it meant. It said to me that a book becomes its own thing in the world once it leaves the author's hands. The book, once published, no longer belongs to the author. It belongs to the reader.*
That idea seemed so revolutionary to me. And cool!
During writing, of course, the author brings things to the book. But then after it's published, it's the reader's turn to bring things to the book. There's no place for the author in that, because it's between the reader and the book.
Readers are always finding things in books that authors didn't intend, but if they are honestly there for the reader, then they are honestly there. I really like that, as an author and as a reader. Sometimes it's an intensely personal meaning, or a super-smart insight that a reader finds in a book. Other times, readers find things that are offensive to them, or tedious, or boring, or characters who push their buttons. And readers of different generations bring different things to books, just as readers of different political, geographical, and socio-economic circumstances do.
Just today, I had a twitter exchange with an author about a sex scene in one of her books. I had found the scene to be hot, but also profound for a specific reason having to do with the plot. She felt it was just sex. Sorry @authorfriend, I read the book, and the sex scene was hot AND profound.
Not that she's wrong. It's just one point of view, and it doesn't happen to be mine.
|Hey Craigslist people, get your feet the hell off the couch!|
I often think of this whole thing when these review kerfluffles break out, where authors become upset about reviews. (Even though, gah! a spectrum of reviews, both good and bad, help readers find books they like, and that's good for authors.)
I'm grateful for every review no matter what. These days. I'll read a review now and then if I'm invited. (And, I'm not going to act like I don't enjoy hearing people enjoy my books or reading a positive review - of course I do!) But in general, my thinking is reviews don't involve me and I don't seek them out.
Sort of like, if I sold a couch on Craigslist, I'm not going to go visit the buyer and monitor if they're putting their feet on it or whatever. Because it's just not mine anymore.
I guess that's why I'm writing--to add that point, because I find it freeing. I mean, it's been said over and over that authors should not respond to negative reviews (well, they can, but not in writing). It's been said over and over that authors should not troll for reviews. Turn off Google alerts. Focus on the next book. Reviews are for readers.
I guess I would go a step further, and say that a review, positive or negative, doesn't have anything to do with the author whatsoever! It's between the reader and the book. It's about the reader bringing things of their own to the book. You're no longer involved. This is a point that can be liberating for both readers and authors.
Or at least, it's been liberating for me!! LOL. Maybe it's totally obvious to everybody else.
Wow, how did this turn into such a screed? It was supposed to be a short anecdote. ~Crane eyes synopsis she was supposed to be writing this whole time~ Anyway, happy Saturday people!
*Just to clarify, when I say a book belongs to the reader, I mean in terms of perception--I don't mean literally, as in the author doesn't deserve to be paid anything for their work.
Images: Otani Oniji by Toshusai Sharaku, Edo era, Japan, Wiki Commons; No. 296, 10x18 cm (4x8"), Woodcut / Hand-Made Paper, Edition 100 · 17.02.1983 - 24.02.1983 by Werner Stuerenburg. wiki commons.