Monday, October 22, 2012

On Binders Full Of Women & The Power Of No Intentions In Your Writing

So. Last week, Governor Mitt Romney told the whole world he'd been handed binders full of women to consider as potential members of his cabinet. I'm sadly incapable of reading minds, but I'm 99.9% confident Romney had no intention of starting a Tumblr page mocking his alleged binders full of women. He didn't foresee a Facebook page, either.

And yet they happened.

What does Romney's binders full of women have anything to do with writing, you ask? More than I like to admit. You see, when you write those painful, gut-wrenching words on your manuscript, you do it intentionally. Every word is chosen, whether it's before you even begin the manuscript or during the actual writing process. You want those words to have an effect on your reader, and gosh darn it, you'll do whatever it takes to guarantee that effect.

But you can't control what anyone gets out of your book. The reading experience, like every other experience, is subjective. You might want to convey OMG SHOCK at a certain turning point. One reader might be genuinely shocked. Another reader might've seen it coming a billion miles away. Your intentions matter, of course, but they don't dictate what your reader will feel. 

Ask Romney if he intended to offend millions of women. I'm guessing he didn't. Does that mean those millions of women are wrong in feeling how they feel? Nope. Same thing applies to writing, if you ask me. Which is why I think it's crucial all writers embrace the Power Of No Intentions--your work will evoke things you never meant it to, and that's okay. This isn't to say you shouldn't guide your readers toward a particular feeling. You should, but there's always room for the unexpected. Don't be afraid of it. 

Sometimes, it's the unexpected that makes you and your work memorable.

Happy Monday! :)


  1. It's a great point. Once it's out of your hands, it's out of your hands, and you can't control what people will think of it or you.

  2. Very good point here! It's hard to try to foresee what a reader will get out of your work so don't write to in that direction. Do write to the best of your ability and at the end of the day that's what matters. Great post!

  3. I agree with what's been said here. I try not to offend and hope I don't. But I can't worry that I will.