Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Who are you writing for?


I’m going to push the schedule for Introspection Week. Yesterday was an in-clinic day for my wife, and sometimes we can take these in stride but other times they end up consuming the entire day, as happened yesterday. So given that I already have a really terrific guest column lined-up for Friday and the Introspection Week wrap-up scheduled for tomorrow, rather than delay everything by a day, I’m going to double-up on today’s posts and throw the tough question straight at your head right now.

We have already established that you want to write fiction, and specifically, that you want to write some form of genre fiction. When you write your stories—

Who are you writing for

I have a wonderful little book of Mark Twain’s writings about the practice and business of writing around here—somewhere, and I’m sure I could find it if I was willing to spend the rest of the afternoon looking for it—but I’m not, so I’m going to cheat and paraphrase instead. This book includes some of his correspondence with other writers of his time, and one letter in particular stands out. In it Twain was trying to disabuse a younger writer of the notion that writing should be art purely for art’s sake, and that one should relentlessly speak whatever one believes to be The Truth, regardless of one’s audience, or even if one is speaking to no audience at all.

Twain’s reply (paraphrasing now) was that writing alone purely for one’s own pleasure and satisfaction was like having sex alone purely for one’s own pleasure and satisfaction, and the practice should be discontinued by the time one reaches adulthood. 

Disagree with Twain all you like—and there is a multi-billion dollar sex toy industry that says Twain was wrong—but the essential truth of what he said was echoed decades later in all my communications theory classes. Every act of communication involves three things: a transmitter, a medium, and a receiver

When you transmit your message in the medium of the written word: who do you think is receiving it? 

Over to you,


Arisia said...

It's too soon to tell.