After People Read a Book

Now that my book is out there in the reading void, my words are being consumed by others. Judged, chewed upon, swished in the mouths and minds of people who like to think about the story and the many issues within it. Maybe a reader has been there, knows what Scout went through. Maybe a reader was brought up Southern Baptist and identifies with some of the teachings. Maybe a reader grew up in a small town. Maybe a reader – a native North Carolinian – has picked up on a mistake by this original Jersey girl. “Naw, someone from rural North Carolina never would have said that!”

Last night, my mother in law shared her thoughts about one of my characters. I know how I wanted to present my character. But I cannot control how readers interpret him or how their own minds might lead a character into a different or even opposite direction than my intention. It is interesting to listen to why she thinks this character was something else, how and why her mind viewed him as she did, how she saw what he did earlier and then later as something larger. I have talked with another who thought the ending would have been better if it wasn’t tied up so neatly. She would have been okay with it ending after the third part because that’s more realistic. One reader was bored with one of my characters, and I thought…wow, that’s my favorite one! How could he be bored with that character??

It is a new phenomenon for me – listening to others express how their minds viewed my people creations and their experiences while traveling through my world creations. Hearing their thoughts about this issue or that situation. Basically, generating discussion about important life events and moments that shaped my characters but ultimately, also shape us.

I used to be the person who participated in the discussion only. Now I’m the person who is trying to figure out why someone thought this instead of that or why a reader viewed something opposite of how I thought I described it…because I wrote the thing. But when listening, I can understand what they mean when they explain it. Sometimes it is not something I ever thought about myself.

I’m doing a lot of listening, and I love it. I love how different we all are and how we view life in that same light…there are many vantage points. That was why I wrote a story with varying narrations. Oftentimes, we get a story that is one-dimensional. But that is not how life works. Truth is truth in the  end, but sometimes we don’t quite know exactly what it is alone – we need the contributions of others to see the sum of the parts.

When reading a book, we do the same thing as any other function in life: we bring our own life experiences, opinions, indoctrinations, predispositions, biases into the act of reading and interpreting a story. Sometimes we learn something…sometimes we help someone else learn something…but mostly, we become more in touch with ourselves and our fellow humans.

Happy reading! Oh, and PLEASE leave a review on Amazon and Good Reads! It can be just a sentence! It really helps us little guys!

-Dori


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