I don’t get it

Have you ever written something and had someone say they don’t get it? What do you do in a situation like that? Do you take the time to explain? What if it seems like they don’t want an explanation? Sometimes when someone tells you they don’t understand what you wrote, it means they didn’t like it. Other times it means they didn’t catch the deeper meaning your were going for. Maybe they were looking for a deeper meaning that wasn’t really there. Perhaps they were only reading it because you wanted them to, so they more scanned than anything.

I had that happen recently with there people, all family. Each read my rough draft of Table For Two. The first one was my youngest daughter, who is fourteen. She just didn’t get it but wanted me to explain. When I did she said “Oh, I see it now, cool,” and she meant it. The second person said they completely missed the line near the end that put it all together. She didn’t really have interest in it, but wanted me to explain anyway. The third, well that person said it confused them and they didn’t know what I was trying to do. I knew that they didn’t really want me to explain so I didn’t, and they didn’t ask me to.

The lesson learned here? I will probably not bother to have people close to me read my work, certainly not my flash fiction experiments. I can’t make someone have interest, nor would I want to. I’ll just keep writing and ask the people who are enthusiastic about reading and writing to give me their opinions.

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25 comments

  1. I think it is common when people don’t understand what you were trying to say, especially, when you have some deeper meaning. I had such situations and of course they heart in some way, and it is important to have at least one person, who understand what you are writing about and can cheer you, by his opinion.
    And it is important when you feel, that someone wants to know the explanation or not.
    We should just keep writing and to believe in ourselves.
    Thank you for the post.

    Linara

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t think the problem was that these were people close to you. My brother reads my stories and likes them (which is a good thing, since we co-write a lot!), but I wouldn’t ask for input from any of my friends who don’t read science fiction (or, in one case, a relative who doesn’t read fiction at all).

    The one thing I learned from a fiction writing course at university many years ago was the importance of identifying the target audience. Most of my classmates were NOT sci-fi/fantasy readers, to say the least. Their lack of “getting it” bothered me a lot at first, but as the instructor said, “It’s an audience issue.” I learned to pay attention to input from people who enjoy/are familiar with the genre in which I write, and mostly I ignored the rest.

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  3. Can I be honest? I didn’t understand ‘Table For Two’ either. I was very confused. Then I read what the prompt was, went “oh!”, reread it, and loved it. You just don’t expect a story from the perspective of a table :p

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    1. That’s the reaction my oldest daughter had. She also didn’t understand why I would want to write from the table’s perspective. She got technical on me and asked how many legs the table had and if a broken table could really be turned into two. It was an amusing conversation.

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      1. Haha :’) Whenever someone doesn’t understand *why* I wrote something a certain way, I put on my snootiest voice and say that “it’s because of [insert first complicated sounding literary device that comes to mind]”.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. That happens to me quite often when show things to my mom. All three scenarios have happened with her actually.

    My family never comments much on what I show them. They either just say ‘cool’ or nothing at all. I also only show them things if they ask for it. I rarely get any feedback beyond “cool”, but eh… fine. I don’t understand what either one of my brothers do either. lol

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Now that I read the above comment and think about it… Your daughter has a point in questioning whether the table could be made into two. Hmmm.

        That’s something I would usually pick on, but I didn’t even notice lol. And I had no problem picking up on the fact that it was the table’s perspective btw. My brain tends to accept things like that quite easily. Talking dogs, sentient tables, tap dancing raccoons… It’s all an immediate “sure why not?” for me. 😛

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t know that I’ve written a piece of fiction (or poetry, for that matter) that had a “meaning” I wanted the reader to get. My goal is to write something that engages the reader, that creates for the reader an experience they find worth pursuing to the end of the piece. So whenever I have someone read something I’ve written, that’s those are the first and last things I want to know: Did it engage you? What response did you have as you read?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There was not really a secret meaning to it. One could apply one I suppose, but when I wrote it, my only goal was to write about something negative happening from an inanimate object’s point of view. I liked the idea of something good coming out of it, which is why I ended it the way I did. It was a good thing that not everyone understood it because I can keep that in mind when I get to editing. Like you, I want to engage my readers and I want them to be happy with what they have read.

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  6. Yep. Same thing happened to me when I made the mistake of posting one of my poems on Facebook. I’ll probably just stick to this place now haha. Totally agree, people are either interested or not, so might as well spend your time sharing it with those who are rather than trying to convince those who aren’t.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. It is a lesson we all learn. My experience, and those of others I know, is that family and friends are the worst judges, for many reasons. What do you mean, you’re a writer? You’re a goof. They see you differently, they see you in a way that strangers who read you will not. Strangers come at you fresh without preconceived notions.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. I always get my sister to read my finished pieces. She’s not stupid but she does have a short attention span and is easily bored. If she doesn’t get it I don’t explain it, the story should be doing that, I re write it until she does. Its frustrated and heart wrenching and I occasionally give up but in the end the result is worth it as anyone who reads it can understand and enjoy it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Family is always your worst critic…even worse than yourself, which you already know is tough…but family takes you for granted and only half pays attention. I come from a family of readers, but not writers. The only one in the family that reads my fiction is my mother, and she hated my first book. When I started writing in “her” genre, she’s very excited about my newer novellas, but not enough to recommend them to the other family members. Not sure why, but somehow family doesn’t understand the sensitive writer. Don’t try to explain it…just write more!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. First, never give your stuff to loved ones. We can all agree on that. Second, if enough objective readers say they don’t ‘get something’ then you need to rework the material. It’s you and not them. The challenge of writing is to take what’s in your head and put it on the page. In doing so, we often forget, disregard or rush over the thought processes that we’ve already gone through that would help others understand what we’re trying to convey. Sometimes we just have to connect the dots for readers.

    Liked by 4 people

  11. I agree, generally the last people to comment, (understand), my work are generally members of the family, except of course Margaret , my wife who reads and advises on most of it . A very interesting write Kristi ~

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I believe the last time I read some of my “flash” to someone that wasn’t “plugged” into what sudden fiction was they looked at me very cautiously and said: “I don’t know what to say to that.” I, in turn, DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TO SAY TO THAT.
    So, I have to agree with your other commentors. Certain types of art: “AIN’T FOR EVERYONE.”
    I know I’m the last one to appreciate a good spoken joke … I just don’t see the humor most of the time; however, I like animated or drawn illustration such as comic/art a lot.
    I also do a lot of workshopping in writing (academic and prose), and I send my writing out to be published which means I deal with literary rejection alot. “Victory, for me, comes in small chunks, so I have learned to persevere and march on.
    I write what I enjoy writing …. surely someone out there will enjoy it to.
    So, to us dealing with literary adversity …. I toast … and say “WRITE ON!”

    *Just a note, I decided this year I will post “flash” I’ve published under the WordPress tag of “Sudden Fiction”; once a month. So please visit me there also.
    Have a big year, and thanks for not only visiting, but following my blog.
    best,
    G.

    Liked by 1 person

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