For a writer, there is necessary ambiguity, and unnecessary ambiguity. The best stories I read are the ones finished inside me after what the writer calls The End. In this way, the writer is pointing me toward what he wishes to share, and allowing me to find it in my own thoughts and feelings, thereby making it my own.
But this way of sharing a story comes with unavoidable ambiguity. What will the reader take away? Yann Martel told me how once a reader was eager to thank him for Life of Pi. “It’s just so perfect,” she told him. “The tiger is obviously a marriage.”
“It is?” he asked.
“Of course. I’m married and that tiger is a marriage.”
So it was for her. It is almost frightening for an author to learn how varied your readers’ responses can be. A thousand people will read a thousand different stories all with the same title. And yet we pour our attention onto the page so that we may say precisely what we mean. Why bother?
Because of the alternative. Do not be distracted by all this interpretation. Do not be seduced by the witchcraft of meaninglessness: “Life is ambiguous; so too shall be my endings. Who am I to say what is real and what is not?”
You are the author. Pick what you know to be valuable and write it. Know what you know and do not be afraid it, nor that other people will not understand it, nor that they will find something valuable in your work that you did not first see. It is your intention that lights their imagination. It is your desire to share something meaningful and remind readers where the value of life dwells that allows them turn tigers inter marriages.
Write Within Yourself: An Author’s Companion.
“A book to keep nearby whenever your writer’s spirit needs feeding.” Deb Caletti.