Friday, May 7, 2010

Who do you write for?

By Casey Tolfree

Sorry I've been absent for much of the semester. It's been pretty hectic. Truthfully though, there hasn't really been much to say. I've just been working and writing for the past few weeks. AWP was awesome. I got my thesis advisor this week. Everything suddenly became real. I have a hard deadline. It's actually inspired me to spend a lot more time at my computer.

When I woke up this morning I had a bunch of my classmates, who are just posting their final blogs for our practicum class. We had to review writing blogs/author blogs and then do peer reviews of each other's blog. One of my classmates reviewed my blog, Lifex2. I can't really tell how he felt about it, but either way one thing he said really made me start thinking about just who we are writing for as bloggers, novelists, poets, anything.

He said, I write as if I already have an audience. (Look at my followers list... I don't lol). It got me thinking How else would I write? If I write like I am trying to convince people to read my blog or as if no one else is reading I think the writing, insights, everything would be much worse. Similar to how I view my fiction, I write my blog for that one person. I don't know who she is, but I write for the one person who will find my blog or read my novel and whose life will be effected by my words. That's it. Success would be great, but I'm not writing to be a superstar. I write because I have to. It's an inherent part of me. It's that simple.

As for my blog, I try to keep it fun. It grows with me. My practicum brought back a lot of journalism I thought I had to leave at the door when I joined the MFA program. It was fun. I enjoyed transitioning my blog from a forum of work to antidotes and reviews. It let me use a skill set I have a lot of expertise in.

I posted reviews of my blog one day. It was a riot trying to create the fanfare you see on the back of a book. I had fun. Writing is supposed to be fun. Sometimes I think we forget that. We get so wrapped up in grades and what's right and what works that we forget to just sit back and have fun.

Who do you write for? How do you write? And why do you write? I have this assignment for next week where we have to observe how we write as we are writing. It's like meta-squared. Try it... see what you come up with. You might surprise yourself.


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  2. I worry about being aware of who I am writing for during the act of writing out lines--I think I would be too distracted to come up with something fresh--but I like the idea of having an audience as a goal in the back of the mind, or when making revisions decisions.

  3. I initially write for me. Plain and simple, I write because it's in me to write and because there are things I want to say. But, similarly to what Josh said, I do keep that sort of ideal audience in my mind when revising and/or thinking of big picture things (like organizing a book, for example).

  4. Robert Pinsky, in one of his superb craft essays, says that writers need to hold themselves accountable to someone or something, even if it isn't a flesh-and-blood audience, per se. I've also heard of a writer's emergency, which is something that sticks in my mind more and more. Forche also has an interesting point on poetry as a need to express witness of some kind. For me, I think it changes depending on what I am writing. Some poems I write to my family, even if there's no 'you' being addressed, others are addressed to particular individuals, often ex-lovers, the idea of homosexual love/lust, or figures (as in a persona poem). If there's one thing I've become more aware of as a poet, it's the fact that 'you' is someone or something. The project is, then, to find out who.

  5. I try to disregard audience at first because thinking about audience too soon would frighten me into silence. So I write that first draft for me. Then on revision I'm trying to communicate it to a reader with the hope that the reader will connect with my poem the way I connect with poems that speak to me.


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