Writer Baggage, Reader Baggage

I’m struggling a little with the debate between how much the interpretation of a person’s narrative is the responsibility of the writer and how much is the reader’s.

The straw that brought me here was a recent journal entry in which I was musing about why I always feel that someone is purposefully ignoring me when I don’t get a response to an email that specifically asks for a response. In my post, I recognized that the issue is mine, that the vast majority of the time people don’t respond because they are busy, but I still got an interesting range of responses.

Almost no one who read my post understood or responded to the fact that I was taking responsibility for my feelings and NOT truly wondering whether or not I was being ignored. I have read and re-read the post to see where I might have been misleading, but I can’t see it.

Is it possible for an issue to be so charged, or so universally experienced, that no matter what I write or how well I write it, people project their own baggage onto it? When I re-read the piece, I just can’t see where I did a poor job relaying my message, and yet, it produced eight comments with people wondering whether I was talking about them or with people sort of defending me against some transgression.

Unfortunately, the situation that had prompted my wondering about my feelings included people who read my journal, and they REALLY went to the guilty side, defending themselves vigorously in offline emails. But I never said they were ignoring me! I said I felt ignored, that it happened a lot and I wondered what it served in me to feel ignored.

Some altruistic and arrogant part of me was actually hoping that by explaining my self-analysis, maybe other people might gain something from the observations. I guess I picked a topic that was too charged. Or maybe I personalized it too much. At any rate, I’ll keep thinking about it. If I want to write good narrative, I have to be aware of my audience.

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