“That’s not what I meant when I wrote it!”

The writer in me shrieked for the nth time

“It is not enough that we write to be understood. We must write so we cannot possibly be misunderstood.”- Robert Louis Stevenson

Maggie, do you remember the draft I once shared with you? It was my attempt at articulating this feeling. It comes too frequently.

I don’t want to think there no way to understand, prevent, or predict this outcome.

I think it’s often a matter of the context: Did I use the wrong word? Was it a wrong sentence? Could I have made it better by using this other example instead?

Often, I’m not happy about the fact that I set out to communicate a specific idea or feeling, and fell short.

‘O that my words were written down! O that they were inscribed in a book! O that with an iron pen and with lead they were engraved on a rock forever!’ Job 19:23, 24 NRSV

I think our mission, as writers, is to keep getting better at this — communicating what we mean, while keeping in mind that words may be interpreted differently.

Our strength lies in accepting our inability to control what we can’t — people’s interpretation — while focusing on what we can — how we communicate.

We may not have control after the piece is released, but before that, we have all the control in the universe.


Written by

Cameroonian writer and video creator. Featured in LEVEL and P.S. I Love You. I write about building relationships and personal transformation.

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