how things get done – Teju Cole

I’m curious: do you feel like you have an authority over your writing? Or maybe I should ask, do you think that you are a good reader of your own writing? At what point do you let go of something you’ve written, and allow it to make its way in the world?

I think I’m a good reader of my own work. My right hand does know what my left hand is doing. But I wouldn’t imagine that I’m the best reader of my work. I think an intelligent and sympathetic critic can do as well as I can with the text. Some have done better. In response to questions at readings, I sometimes say to the audience member, “Your interpretation is as good as mine,” and I mean this sincerely. The text should have some openness, some volatility, some space for interpretations beyond your own. You send it out, and it’s no longer yours alone. And in writing, the dear wish is always to write something by which you outdistance your ordinary reach. The text is a telescope, or a spacecraft.