Sunday, September 20, 2009

What I wrote or what you read?

One of my favorite things to say is, "Read what I wrote, not what you read." If you're reading my book or something like this blog post, then I do want you to read what you read. I want

what are word for?Image by Darwin Bell via Flickr

you to take the world that surrounds you and apply what I've said to that world. I want you to insert your own characters, your protagonist and antagonist, your good and your evil, and play out the plot to a point of understanding how what I've said fits into your life. I want you to think about your own story-- from my fiction to your non-fiction.

But, if I'm talking to you or writing specifically to you, then it's important that you read what I wrote and refrain from inserting whatever world you've conjured up as a means to translation. When I'm talking to you, I'm not trying to make up a story that I want you to interpret; I'm telling you exactly what's going on in my world... and I'm probably telling you about it because I want your opinion. I'm not telling you about it because I want to be judged. In fact, I want your opinion, not from the story that you think I'm trying to tell, but from the unique set of circumstances that make up what's going on in my life. I want you to jump from what's going on in your life to what's going on in my life--stay out of your fiction and be in my non-fiction.

To do this, you will definitely draw on your personal experiences and those of others, but you won't assume that my situation is exactly the same as theirs. Why? Because as soon as you make that assumption, you are going to be wrong... there are too many variables, too many levers and buttons and switches, that define a moment and no two moments are ever exactly the same.

Myers & Briggs say that the last letters of their personality test define how you output the information that you've already gathered and processed. Perceptive (P) people are open to conclusion, sort of going with the flow, while Judgmental (J) people are the list-makers, structured and goal-focused. I struggle with strong J-types if their focus on the goal is so strong that they have to pass judgment in the now; hearing what they heard instead of what I said and reading what I wrote instead of what they've read.

By all means, go back and reread this if necessary. ;-)
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