“The answers you get from literature depend on the questions you pose.” – Margaret Atwood
I woke up this morning wanting to do a Margaret Atwood quote; I adore the woman and her writing and find her such an inspiration and a fascinating soul. Most of her quick-search quotes aren’t even really about writing; they’re about Canada and being a mother and getting older but staying young, which is another reason I like her so much. I have read her book on writing, too, Negotiating with the Dead, so the lack of immediate quote about writing stills my leaping heart that perhaps a writer who just talks about writing should be kicked in the seat of her pants.
This particular quote makes me think of the last quote, and Andy’s comment, and my response to it, and how two different people can look at the same bunch of words, read the same lines, but extrapolate completely different in the meaning. And, meanwhile, the writer or the speaker could have meant something entirely different all together. The whole field of English and Literature in academia has always to me been a matter of how well you can support your point of view, whatever it may be (more commonly known as how well you can be a bullshitter).
Of course, there are always exceptions. Some works are far more transparent than others, but it is interesting that so much of it is about perspective, and that the same story could mean two different things to two different people, merely because they are asking of it different questions. It’s something I could stand to be more aware of in my own work: what questions will this be inspiring people to ask, if any? Currently, I worry that my work doesn’t inspire any, that it’s too simple without enough lingering nuances, and so I think that is what I’m going to work on today. What are my own questions, and how can I go about answering them through my characters and my plot?