I found this delicious quote from Robert Jackson Bennett in an article he wrote about writers responding to their reviews. It’s just about perfect at crystalising the gap between an author and their text after they publish it and let it loose in the world:
The reading experience is 70% work done by the reader, not the writer, and when you bring your own perspective and state of mind to my stuff, you are by default changing it – giving it nuance, color, beauties, associations, problems, and conundrums I could never hope to. The human mind is a wonderfully, tantalizingly strange thing, and it is endlessly more complicated than any book could ever be. My job is to give you fuel, and get out of your way.
So I don’t want to be included in discussions of my work. Ideally, my opinion is moot, irrelevant. I cannot tell you if your opinion of me or what I wrote was wrong, even if I feel it obviously, obviously is: what you read is what you read, and I shouldn’t have any say in that.
People think writers have power, but ideally, I think it’s quite the opposite, or should be. We aren’t even part of the equation. What you read is infinitely more powerful than what I wrote.
You can read the rest of the piece over on Bennett’s blog, I highly recommend it.