Why do we write? To communicate with ourselves. Why do we talk? To communicate with others. Reading and listening are passive expressions of sharing ideas.
Yesterday I was having dinner with a friend of mine who has helped to sell several of my books to regulars at a local establishment. Since I don’t frequent the location as often, I asked about certain people who had purchased my second book, Of Dolphins and Desires, and their reaction to it. He mentioned that one person liked the story very much, but thought that some of the Spanish was incorrect. I couldn’t (nor would I) argue the point, as I requested the assistance of two Spanish teachers with those parts of the book. The second person reported that she, too, enjoyed the story, but thought that too much detail was given in certain parts, and it wasn’t necessary for the story. I smiled, thanked him for the feedback, then really had to think about my reaction to the critique of these two readers. Another person, who hasn’t finished the book, was critical of the language (there are several explicatives), claimed that there were many typos, in the future I should “have it professionally edited”.
My immediate reaction was to defend all three comments. “It’s not my fault you think the wrong Spanish was used,” and, “What details? Tell me, and I’ll give you a reason why I didn’t take them out,” and finally, “Whatever typos you find, I take responsibility for. No one is perfect. But I don’t apologize for the language, as . . .” Yes, I guess I would go on and on defending, rather than smiling, thanking them for their opinion, and then going on about my day. I’m reminded that we cannot please everyone all the time. I then think about how the stories come to me, and that I record them in just that way. I might tweak things a bit, but what I “see” is what I write, and I write from where I am (see my last blog).
Which brings me to the title of this blog. We speak to others in order to help them understand our day, instructions, feelings and emotions, the past, or even the future. We want to be understood. Our opinions must be heard, and so we speak them loudly. Other than those times that we might talk to ourselves, we are sharing, wanting others to see things from our perspective, to join our side, or debate against it. To be understood. Talking requires another to listen, and oftentimes our words are rewarded by keeping another’s attention. We already know what we’re going to say. When we listen, we are on the flip side. It is our turn to give the speaker that feeling of being understood.
But we write to understand. We make connections, record thoughts that perhaps were not there previously, and to look at ourselves and the world around us in a way that encourages us, drives us, to understand. That is why journaling or keeping a diary is so important for some people. It gives them a ready audience (the paper or their keyboard) where their understanding, or sometimes misunderstanding, is revealed. In thinking about the feedback offered from readers, I realize why they may have a different opinion than I do about the work. I want to be understood, but I write to understand the vast expanse of human emotions. Mental illness, love, hate, death, sickness, joy, anger, frustration, excitement, anxiety, depression. It is from the writer’s point of view that these conditions or situations are explored. Sometimes strong language is needed in order for the writer to understand the anger at wrongful incarceration, or the wonder of love.
I’m sure I’m not the only author who includes pieces of themselves in every character. How will a character react in a certain situation? The flow of emotion, of creation, from that part of us that we all possess, dictates the rough edges, but it’s the author’s experiences, the author’s questing for understanding, that allow the edges to be smoothed, for the character to do what the author would have done, or perhaps the author allows the character to take a road they themselves have passed by. And it is this search for understanding within themselves that reinforces with a writer (or painter or sculptor or woodworker or musician) that their art, their creation is an expression of who they are, and is completed for their benefit, their growth. Their understanding. If an audience resonates with what the artist (writer, poet, musician) has done to understand for themselves, then the artist is understood. Is it a requirement? No. People create to understand themselves and the world around them, to make some sense out of life and its often unpredictable situations and circumstances.
In my quest to understand, I have tapped into that which provides me with timelessness (Thanks, Jane!), with bliss. To view my understanding, and perhaps it speaks to you (in which case I will be understood), follow my tweets on Twitter or check out my Author’s Page on Facebook. The links are on my web site www.myjoyenterprises.com