If you can be misread, you will be

May 21, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Oh, how true this is! People love to read into what we write. They delight in finding the things that we didn’t mean to put in there, but that can be seen through someone else’s filter. And boy, can trouble result!

Is it possible to avoid this? I guess extensive proof reading and editing will help, especially when multiple people are involved, as that will make sure it goes through the filters of several different minds as they apply their own perspective to what you wrote. But you’re never going to cover everybody.

Can anything be done once you have been misread? You can try and correct it, but the level of both your popularity (or notoriety) and the level of your mistake will dictate whether or not anyone will ever forget what was misread, no matter how many times you try and tell them what you really meant. So I think misreading is inevitable. It’s simply a question of being able to deal with the fallout.

I think learning not to take things too much to heart helps as well, but for creative people like writers, this can be a tricky thing. I’ve yet to learn how to do it properly. And since some misunderstandings can damage reputations (which is far worse than simply causing embarrassment) it is definitely a serious business. However, there’s only so much that can be done to stop it. We need to be as careful as possible, but we also need to remember who we are and what we meant and try not to get too upset if others misconstrue us or our writing.

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