Today, I read a question on Quora that had me rolling my eyes.
Don't get me wrong, a lot of people will see the question as relevant, given the fact that the study of literature in English encourage people to think a certain way of stories.
REPHRASE: Every author has it's purpose for the book, how to you read the book so the author feels respected/happy/satisfied etc?"
Like I said, valid. At the same time, I'm having trouble writing this because my eyeballs got stuck with my pupils aimed at my skull.
Here's why: I believe that the idea of an author's purpose in the context expounded by literature teachers the world over is a myth.
Sure, some of us like to explore certain aspects of life in my writing. Like racism, or bullying or... spousal abuse. Name it and someone's probably written a book with it in the story already.
But never (and I've interacted with and read about so many authors I've lost count) have I heard a published author say: "I've always wanted to write a comment on racism/bullying/insert-hot-topic-for-literary-debate-here."
No! We all want to write about the bullied kid who stands up to the bullies. Or the battered wife who kills her husband with a leg of mutton, then proceeds to feed murder-weapon-stew to the detectives (Roald Dahl wrote that one, by the way). Or some other absolutely low-brow but completely delicious subject.
We fiction writers are weird weird people. We like writing weird and interesting stories. Things that excite us and draw us in.
And comments on insert-topic-here are about as dry as King Tut's mummy.
So here's how we writers want you to read our book, the don't-ever-write-this-in-a-literature-essay-or-you'll-be-failed version:
2) With rapt attention.
3) With a sense that you the reader are living the story along with the characters.
4) With trust that the story will lead you the reader somewhere incredibly rewarding.
On top of that, some authors (those who want their books to be lessons) want their readers to think about what they've read. Things like:
1) Would you be able to follow the main characters' examples?
2) What would you do in the situation you've just read about?
All of us want you to remember our stories and characters. We all want you to think about our stories for years to come, and bring it up in dinner conversations so more people will want to read our books.
Not because we think our comment on insert-topic-here is valid and deserves to be assimilated into many thinking minds.
But because we put our hearts and souls into stories. We love them, and we want as many people as possible to love them too.
Readers: Did this come as a surprise to you?
Writers: Anyone out there who agrees/disagrees with me?