Tuesday, March 24, 2015


I enjoy symbolism.  Writing underlying shades of meaning and seeing if people can pick up on it is one of the reasons I do what I do.  And since I have to force myself to be patient with my work, I don't always strike the right balance of symbolism.  In fact, I've been known to ram it down people's throats, to the point where I'm virtually shouting, PAY ATTENTION RIGHT HERE!  THIS MEANS SOMETHING!

However, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.  Since reading is subjective, it's up to individual readers to discern if there's symbolism to be had.  Unfortunately, the filter between the writer and the reader is often flawed, and it can lead a reader to see symbolism where none exists.

I've had this happen with my own work.  Someone who read Salvation Day once regaled me with example after example of the symbolism contained therein, and some of it was what I'd intended.  Let me repeat that - some of it was what I intended.  The rest, like the make up of the energy suit the main character wore or the black outfit worn by Lucifer, is just description.  However, this person insisted there was a wide variety of meaning I was missing.  In pointing this stuff out, this reader managed to make me feel both incredibly smart and stupendously stupid at the same time.  I felt smart for putting in all of this great nuance that created layers to the story, and I felt stupid for missing my own symbolism.

This seems one of the perils of writing.  Yet I wonder how much is pretension.  Are some people so afraid they've missed something that they'll find and describe it everywhere?  Yes, in Akeldama, the precise weight of the stakes used to penetrate a vampire's heart is important, but the SUV the main character drives is nothing more than an SUV so he can get from one place to another.

Read a novel at whatever level you enjoy it at, but don't get so caught up in the symbolism that you feel you have to find it everywhere.  This isn't English class, where you'll get docked points for not figuring out that Queequeg's coffin represents death.  Just read, and let your mind figure out what it wants to.

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