Friday, April 19, 2013


The Blogging From A to Z April Challenge is more than halfway through. Time marches forward. While I'm not officially linked up, I'm participating for the fun of it.
Due to the Boston Marathon massacre, I've been unable to blog, or do much of anything besides fix meals for my kids, answer their questions, tweet, facebook, and obsessively watch the news. 

Now that they've got the last suspect on the run, and everyone has been identified, I feel it's time to move forward with business as usual, though I know for many of us life will never, ever be the same. 

If you are struggling to cope with this unspeakable tragedy, I strongly suggest reading author Carrie Jones' recounting, "I have a bad feeling," reprinted with permission by Huffington Post. 

Now to the alphabet letters. I figured I'd do N-O-P together and then Q-R tomorrow, which will catch me up officially. Instead of three individual topics to make this post truly dizzying, I'm combining them into a phrase:


This is a phenomenon found in all art (and computer science, too), wherein some "ghost in the machine" or Providence puts a meaningful or mystical element into something otherwise completely man-made. 

Most artists purposely work symbols, spiritual or political statements into their art, whether with brush or pen. But often, through no device of their own, the thing that most resonates with people is the thing they did not intend. 

A bunching of paint that resembles an angel in the corner, or the unwitting symbolism that meant nothing during the author's time but means everything to us today. 

You may have experienced this when a reader said of your short story, "Wow, the way you drew your villain is so deep. I've never seen anyone do that before."

"What?" you say, with interest. 

"Oh, you know, making him mute, as if to say we're all incapable of expressing our true inner selves."

"Oh that," you say. "Right, that's... what I meant to do. Exactly."

Maybe you did. Maybe you didn't. 

But it's there. Not On Purpose is why art is art. It's the magic that allows every single viewer or reader to see in your art something intensely personal, just for them. Or sometimes it's the magic that unites us all, striking every human being on a higher level, something basic to all of humanity. 

Either way, it's usually quite a shock to the artist, if he or she is still alive to ruminate on patron response.

In pre-published writing, this type of reader feedback may spur a new direction in the story or a sequel or a complete rewrite. Post-publication, it's simply something to celebrate. 

Not On Purpose makes art transcendent. If you find it has happened to you, don't argue. Embrace it. Maybe the universe isn't whispering,

Or maybe she's talking specifically to you.

Katrina's blog pic


  1. I'd never really thought of this, but I like it! Great post. It's easy to forget in today's world of rampant grouping and steryotypes that we are all still individuals. We each bring our own lives to the art which we view/read etc. Thanks- Rob

  2. Haha love this! It's so true. When I did my directing project this semester, a ton of students came to see it and they all had to write papers on it for their classes. I had a couple friends let me read their papers, and they were talking about things they saw in the directing that definitely weren't there, not consciously anyway. Same thing happens when I let people read my books - they always find something in there that was "not on purpose," but that doesn't make it any less worthwhile. We take what we need from art and stories, regardless of what might or might not have been intended :)

  3. Fantastic use of those three letters, and it's amazing what others can find in our own work.


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