Embracing the Hostile Read

There’s an old saying, “No text can survive a hostile read.”

I also like this exchange from the West Wing, when Sam Seaborn is told that a passage from a speech given by the First Lady has angered an activist group.

SAM: I don’t see it.
CJ: You have to want it to see it.

Here’s the thing about writing anything: everyone is going to come at it with their own biases, their own take.  Once you send it out into the world, you have no way to control how people are going to take it.  And, more specifically, if people are going to want to misread your text, bring their hostile read to you, you really have to just take it.

I’m not saying this to address any specific or recent review– in fact I’ve been quite pleased with the recent reviews for THE WAY OF THE SHIELDbut more as a sort of zen reminder that people will find the things that they connect to, that they can interpret with their own biases, and even though it doesn’t match my intentions… that doesn’t matter.

I’m kind of arguing for “the death of the author”, I know, but the point is, all I can do is put it on the page.  If the reader finds something there I didn’t intend, that’s how it is.  In fact, I think it’s great to embrace that, and see what I can learn.  Isn’t that what it’s about, after all?  Constantly trying to learn, grow and improve?

That’s my goal, at least.

Hey, are you in the northeast?  What are you doing next weekend?  Me, I’m the Special Guest at PhilCon!  If you can, come on out, and come say hello!

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