Monday, April 10, 2006

The audience

It's a good thing the wasp was trapped between the screen that doesn't quite fit in the window near my desk and the closed window or I'd have been out of here with the first sighting. I'm allergic and I don't feel like digging out my Epi Pen or going to the hospital today. I don't feel much like working either when the sun is warm and the breeze is a soft kiss on the skin that brings the scents and sounds of springtime through my window. It's hard to sit here most days but even more so today. I'd rather be doing anything that typing up doctors' dictations today.

Ive been taking short little breaks to check email and chatting briefly with the Evil One, and I read a post about the fact or fiction of blogs. That started me thinking about writers and their audience. Blogs/journals offer writers a way to interact with their audience in much the same way authors like Mark Twain did when they went on lecture tours. Authors and poets read from their books, poems or essays and basked in the warm glow of laughter, tears, outcries of commiseration and even boos and hisses. They connected with the audience and got immediate feedback. That is what is so seductive about blogging -- when people take the time to read what is written and stick around for more than a nanosecond.

Writers and poets need to write, to express their opinions, to vent their anger or display their sorrow, elation and emotions, and to interact with the rest of the world. Any writer who says they write strictly for him/herself and doesn't care if anyone reads is lying. We all want to touch at least one other person, one soul who understands what we have to say, or even one individual who disagrees with us. We are actors on a stage who pray for an audience. Even Emily Dickinson wanted people to read her poetry, although she hid it away in an attic because she couldn't handle rejection. Some writers and poets never develop a thick enough skin to take the criticism with the adulation. They are probably the ones saying they write for themselves and don't care if anyone ever reads them. But I'd bet that deep in their secret hearts they believe that some day someone will find their work, be impressed and make sure the rest of the world knows they existed.

Whether we write fiction or faction (fictionalized fact), we invest a great deal of who and what we are in those words. Think alternative universes or fairy tales or any matter of science fiction, fantasy or horror is devoid of the author's experience? Think again. Even in the most macabre and alien worlds you will find at least a piece of the writer and his experiences.

A friend and I talked last night about a young author who has written three books now and whose first book has been optioned by a movie company. She said he has a very vivid imagination and that his fiction is interesting, but the characters lack depth. He's 19. He hasn't had a chance to develop any depth. Experience and living is the only cure. Depth comes with time, circumstance and age.

I look back on what I wrote as a teenager and even in my 20s and 30s and I see the difference in the texture and life of the characters. They are more real, have more facets, more dimensions than they did when I first began writing at eight. After all, what did I know of life and living at the age of eight? I still have a lot to learn and my writing evolves as I experience more. It is inevitable, as inevitable as change. But I also crave an audience. I need to know that what I wrote touched someone somewhere -- whether they liked it or not -- that what I wrote meant something to them, sparked an interest, an emotion, an idea.

Writing is like any other form of art. It is about touch and touch is necessary to our continued existence and to our happiness. We need to be seen. We need to be known. We need to be a part of the world. To quote Susan Sarandon in Shall We Dance?: "We need a witness to our lives."

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