in-ten(t)-shǝ-năʹ-lə-tē

trillium

Trillium: A shy flower that flourishes here in the south. It’s everywhere but often missed.

With your current writing project what is your intention? Why is that important? Well, let’s talk.

We authors have an intention in mind, as we furiously peck out word after word of our grand narratives. Intention is obviously very similar to theme.

I intend for this work to show:

  • the futility of war, or
  • the futility of peace, or
  • love does conquer all, or
  • all men are dogs!

The problem is that, more often than not, we “intend” more than we realize.

When Robert Frost wrote “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” he probably didn’t intend to write a poem about Santa Claus delivering gifts on Christmas Eve, but there is a published essay to that effect.

Another interesting take on Frost’s iconic poem is that he, Robert Frost is obsessed not with death or art, but with land ownership! Indeed, the very first word of the poem is a possessive, “Whose.”

Who is the “real” enemy in your novel? Are you so sure? Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar wrote a great essay on the fairy tale “Snow White” wherein they effectively show that Snow White is a docile, submissive girl who for the most part lies flat on her back and waits for a man to kiss her. Whereas the Evil Queen is a schemer, a plotter, an impersonator, an artist, and a woman of tremendous creative ability…does any of this ring a bell…writers?

I could mention any number of authors whose works reveal ideas, concepts, themes, that the author surely did not intend. So why are they there? Because when we write, we reveal our own idiosyncrasies or in the worst case scenario our own fears or hidden desires!

Hey, Steven King in his excellent memoir, ON WRITING discusses how at one point he looked back on his early novels and noted his own fascination with blood.

One may not see a pattern until one has completed a large number of novels. We, in the process of writing, discover bits and pieces of ourselves. Writing is self-discovery and what one discovers can be revealing in a positive manner or it may be quite difficult to accept. Or you discover absolutely nothing, and it all comes to light after you’re good and gone! Whoops!

So what’s my point? Well, we can’t always control everything in our works, but we can at least in this “information sensitive” age be on the lookout for what might be construed as racist or sexist or jingoist or whatever and deal with it as one who wishes to leave something of worth for the never-ending world of readers to cherish.

Are we really facing our fears? Or are we hiding them…in the attic…like Jane Eyre’s Madwoman. Well, be careful; someday soon, she will come out.

What are your thoughts on this?

32 thoughts on “in-ten(t)-shǝ-năʹ-lə-tē

  1. Rachel McKee

    Great post, as always. I love what writing can reveal. I always thought it would be an incredible experience to sit in on an English class studying my writing and hearing the many interpretations that were discovered. Egocentric? Maybe. But a girl can dream.

    Liked by 4 people

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  2. Ink 'em Down

    Great post! Very insightful.
    I really like your observation here Paul: we intend more than we realize. I would have never thought of that! I’m gna ponder over this point; i like it!
    And how Steven King later identified patterns in his own work…Wow.

    Liked by 4 people

    Reply
    1. Paul Post author

      Thank you for reading! You know, I recall how years ago I was reading a motivational book, and the author suggested blocking out your life every five years and then writing in each five year block, beginning with 1-5, any and every experience that you feel was important to your development as a human being. That experiment was an eye-opener for me. I made some rather interesting connections I l wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. I think it’s the same in writing. When we write our novels, stories, poems, I think we reveal, in subtle and maybe not so subtle ways, ourselves as well.

      Liked by 5 people

      Reply
  3. Sha'Tara

    In my opinion, the more different interpretations can be done over a piece of writing, the better the piece. Let the mad woman come out and burn down the damn castle: it’s a prison, however one looks at it. I think the blind man is better off in the end with Jane, and without the millstone around his neck. A good piece of writing should be thrown to the dogs to be torn into. Its survival is what proves its worth.

    Liked by 2 people

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  4. Karina Pinella

    Good question and points. There are times when my writing takes a turn that I did not intend but it worked out that way perhaps due to the characters or just how the story was supposed to be. Then there are times when I know exactly what I want to say and the intent is clear and done. As you may have experienced, the writing experience is not always the same. Sometimes your thoughts flow just so and you’ve written what you had in mind, while other times you put in bits and pieces here and there during the course of a period and the end result may be a surprise.

    Liked by 4 people

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    1. Paul Post author

      The whole issue of intent is so broad isn’t it? I agree wholeheartedly with what you say. I’m often so sure the narrative will move in a certain direction only to have it swerve to the demands of my character! And off we go!
      Thanks for reading and responding.
      🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
    2. exoticnita54

      Totally agreed Karina..

      Maaan..
      I wish I have the visions of you guys..
      I’m reading 📖 all your comments and just in awe of how you all seems to have all the right things to say.. that makes so much sense..

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  5. robynelliot

    My own experience informs me that as I write I am thinking one thing, then on reading back I see another, which is better! Which makes me believe that there is something rather deep at work as we, er, work! Call it the muse, the voice of the soul, whatever, but certainly for me, thus far, I write then see the messages and meaning in the finished piece. For me, writing is a consistently retrospective experience in the context of what messages I may want to convey. It’s interesting, Paul how we can look back at what we’ve previously written and witness something at work that at the time of creation we might not necessarily be conscious of. Which, of course, makes the whole creative process, the creative life, something of a marvellous miracle!

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. Paul Post author

      You said it so well. And often that feedback comes from the “other” reader or readers who read your work and see the recurring motif or the interesting connection between this story and that story.

      I think you are exactly right. It is a miracle.

      Thank you for your thoughtful response.

      Like

      Reply
  6. michnavs

    I learned something new here Paul…thank you for sharing your beautiful and creative insights…and that thing about snow white and the evil queen is so true…

    If you have time try reading too on the truth about Cinderella and what most litary enthusiast says about her character…and about the little mermaid too..ahhh there’s a lot ..

    Liked by 1 person

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  7. Mary Job

    ExactLY, although I haven’t consumed any alcohol. Now that I think about it, intentions does matter a whole lot. Usually when i write a first draft of an expressive thought from my emotions, it is mostly very raw, if you read it, you will most likely tell me I have gone crazy. It is unedited, raw as I feel it, poured out in words i can think of to emphasize my feelings, then I leave for a day or two or more, read over and over again, modifying and trying to look at it from various angles and schools of thought, trying to not be suggestive or hurt anyone’s feelings, etc. Well the fact is we can’t get them all, we can however try to be as constructive as possible, the last thing any writer needs is to suggest what is not, goodness you never know who’s reading and who’s going to swallow everything hook, line and sinker, WITHOUT THINKING. But hey, what can be done?

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  8. milesmb3

    Paul, I’m so glad you wrote this post! I had been trying to frame a post in my mind, something to the effect of “does fiction need a thesis?” Clearly, we are on the same wavelength.

    I agree that writers should have an intention, something that drives them to “furiously peck out word after word,” as you said. But, personally, I’ve found that I do my best writing when I let that intention unfold in its own time. When I start with my intention I mind, I tend to get didactic or try to force my characters to do and say things that fit in with my intention, rather than with their identities. Have you ever had this problem?

    By the way, its so true that “One may not see a pattern until one has completed a large number of novels. We, in the process of writing, discover bits and pieces of ourselves.”

    One thing I’ve noticed over the course of three novels (the first two are hidden in a sock drawer) is that I keep accidentally recreating some of the same underlying themes and elements. I never start with them in mind, but I think they will always come up because creation is a deeply personal act. We can’t help but reveal something about our tastes and ideas when we create something.

    Love this post! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Paul Post author

      Well thank you!

      Yeah, regarding the pattern notion. I’ve had very much the same experience of seeing tropes or situations over and over. For instance, I noticed the other day, I often have a violent incident occur in my narratives, but my protagonist is never directly involved, but is often very much influenced by the event. The violence is always “somewhere else” as it were. So my question is: What does this say about me, the author? I haven’t answered that one yet! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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  9. Deb

    As always very thought-provoking!! First, did you just call me an Evil Queen??? 😉
    Often when I read something I wrote days, weeks or months later I often think…hmmm I wrote that? Something happens when I actually start typing the words, what I think are just simple thoughts in my head come out in such complex ways, sometimes. And as I go back and re-read it I’m sometimes pretty amazed that that came out of me. I agree with robynelliot above, it’s like a muse takes over, or I think it’s my higher, inner-self speaking or writing if you will. I think we could discuss these for days…and that would be fun!! Great topic Paul!! Kiss Cody for me!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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  11. exoticnita54

    When I read all that you have to say and how you put it all together..,
    I find that I’m limited in knowledge to have a debate with you..
    but I do find you your articles so fascinating and So intriguing..
    I think you have such a brilliant mind.. and so versatile with your great imagination ..
    You are really a natural gifted author..

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Paul Post author

      Why thank you Nita for all your wonderful words. 🙂 I read your Online dating series and first let me say, you are an amazingly gifted writer! I couldn’t stop reading from one post to the next. You created a nice tension that keeps the reader moving along, and you do it very skillfully.
      You’re not limited in knowledge at all. I think you are quite intelligent and VERY talented as a writer and thinker. So please keep going with your narrative. I look forward to your posts.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. exoticnita54

        Paul.. coming from you.. I take that as a. Very huge compliment..
        and I’m smiling so huge. Right now..

        Thanks for reading 📖 my story and liking it…
        you reveiws and your feedback will be greatly appreciated and welcomed…
        Thank you Paul.. 😃😄

        Liked by 1 person

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