I read an articlein the newspaper where writer Talya Meyers complained about, of all things, Pottermore. She seems to think JK Rowling is an imagination thief. The reason? Rowling likes to share backstories, histories and mythologies for her world and the writer felt that this was taking away from her own ability to imagine what happened. She brought up the ghost in Hamlet, saying that part of the “fun” is not knowing if it’s a specter, part of Hamlet’s imagination or even if it’s telling the truth.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the article writer is an English grad student. Meyers even admits she’s on the side of Death of the Author (in the article called intentional fallacy), the trope that says that the author’s word isn’t important, only the interpretation. As a story goes, Isaac Asimov went into a class discussing his own works, which I’m guessing he was an expert on. After class, he spoke to the lecturer to say that while he found the interpretation interesting, it wasn’t what he meant. As legend has it, the teacher’s response was “Just because you wrote it, what makes you think you have the slightest idea what it’s about?”
I think blood is spurting out my ears.
As a novel writer, this whole business irks me. I know so many details of the world I create, most of which will never end up in the finished product(s). Sharing all the stuff for my world is fun. Not that I don’t want people to interpret my work, talk about what it means to them, even come up with ideas based on it, but come on. I think I’m qualified to interpret my own work, English degree or no.
Honestly, the article seemed petulant, like JK Rowling was making her work tougher because it limited her interpretations. Come on. Books are windows into the imaginations of others. You can't expect it to be the same as yours. And complaining about being limited? Bah! You’re only as limited as your mind can imagine.
The point of sharing stories with others is not to simply give them something to write about. It’s to give them a place to start their own journey. If you run into a wall, you don’t try to bust through it, nor do you blame the author for putting it there. You go around it. With the new path comes new ideas. Reader, writer, or interpreter, true creativity is hard work.