I go to critique group every Sunday. Most people go to church, I sit in the temple of words known as Pike’s Perk Coffee Shop and go over the words of my peers and they go over mine. We discuss how we can make ourselves better at our art, and talk about our personal lives. We’re both friends and professional partners.
With that said, my critique group showed me just how shallow I am as an author yesterday. One of the stories of my fellow authors contains a woman who has lost a child in her womb and is fleeing from her life. In doing so, she puts herself in danger.
One of my compatriots said, “I understand that her reflection on the empty beach house as a reflection of the emptiness of her womb.”
I’m pretty sure I did a double take.
To be fair, I don’t read women’s fiction except what my critique partners share with me. It’s not my cup of tea, but then I’m sure they’re not all fans of my sci-fi and thrillers either.
But I realized, I suppose, that I’m shallow. Empty house, empty womb? Really? I read those words and thought, at best, “Oh, the house will remind her that this is where she wanted to raise her child.”
I read the words. I take them pretty literally. It’s the same when I write the words. If, someday, someone is reviewing my works and says, “Here, when the spaceship is penetrated by the missile, he’s talking about Sarah Dayson’s vulnerability as a woman…” Bullshit. I mean, and you can quote me, that the SHIP got hit by a MISSILE. LOL!
I have not hidden any meanings. I do not consider my story to be a metaphor for some other state of human existence. I simply write the words to tell as good of a story as I can tell. Not to really educate anyone about anything, but simply to entertain.
That’s called commercial fiction, in my case. I didn’t pick up any life altering lessons from Indiana Jones. Or Luke Skywalker. Or even James Bond. What I was, quite frankly, was entertained. Which, as a guy, is one of my top priorities. Simply not being bored is good enough for me.