Thursday, November 09, 2006

Writing For Others

I have noticed a strange philosophy among certain writers. It is a concept summed up in the statement: I write for myself. On the surface, it seems like a mantra more writers should aspire towards, but I believe that within this principle is a basic fallacy.

A comedian doing stand-up work has routines. Those who are perfecting their art of humor test their material on various audiences, learning what works well and discarding the rest. Their purpose is to make the audience laugh; those who attend are hoping to be amused. Suppose a comedian told jokes that very few would understand and fewer would laugh at. Justifying such anecdotes because the comedian jokes for his own amusement shows a blatant disregard to the audience. Eventually such a comedian may find himself standing alone in a room.

When we express our ideas through writing, are we not trying to connect with others? Aside from personal memoirs or journals that we keep, if we write anything that is intended for the eyes of others, it is detrimental to compose stories in such a way that they are incomprehensible. Our ideas never leave the page, and the story fades into nothingness.

We should identify our audience and write for them. Not all stories are for all people, but if there is a target in mind, we must at least take aim before firing. It is our responsibility as the modern storyteller to keep trying until we get it right, honing our craft so as to reach every mind we intend to connect with.

If someone says, “I write for myself,” such a one should not be upset when he or she cannot find publications for finished works. After all, that person has already reached the target audience. Instead of submitting to a magazine, the person needs only to print the story on paper, look into a mirror and read it aloud.

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