Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Perfect Audience

I love to write.

I know, you're shocked! But I really do. I like teaching writing. I like writing poetry (even if it ends up stupid). I like writing stories. Plays. Shopping lists. Blog entries. Yeah, pretty much everything (except queries to publishers--I hate those). 

But often my audiences are not the best for the things I write. For instance, most of my serious poetry is written to someone. And that someone loves my poem, but the poem leaves pretty much everyone else cold. My husband loves the sonnets I wrote to him in college. My mother-in-law loves the poem I wrote her after her husband passed away. My aunt loves the poem I wrote her when she was going through a particular bad part of her life. But the poems don't seem to translate to anyone else. 

I have other audience problems, too. Sometimes readers of my novels aren't so impressed. Sometimes actors in my plays urge me to change serious dramas to farces--"the only way to save this material" is what they contend. Sometimes I've turned what I thought was a brilliant essay, only to have it picked apart. Oh yes, I'm used to it. I've learned, too, that audiences, even if they are pretty off base, do pick up on problems--audience analysis can be beneficial no matter what they think. 

But wouldn't it be nice if one audience--one perfect audience--knew exactly what you were getting at? Wouldn't it be great if my play reached an audience of women who just knew every word in my play was an authentic part of both myself and them, if by the end they were weeping with relief and joy that their deepest dreams were laid out before them, for them to embrace? What if my novel were like the best meal ever eaten, full of magic and mystery, juicy and satisfying, good enough to order over and over again. What if I had regular customers, who found themselves delighted with each new installment?

What would your ideal be? Who is your perfect audience?


  1. Man, do I know what you're talking about. Sometimes, people read a story or a novel chapter and the questions they ask show they had no idea what I was talking about or trying to say. Haynes-san (you know him) once sent much of my poetry to a university professor and he completely missed the depth in all of it, even ignoring all the clues in an anti-war poem he thought was glorifying war. Say what?

    But, I'm also pretty lucky. On the whole, my poetry was more admired than I ever expected when I was younger. And, as an adult, I've always been able to find a couple of readers who truly got it. One of my reviewers (I just adore her) reads my stuff and leaves comments in the margin whenever I make her laugh. That is SO helpful and encouraging.

    My luck on finding someone who really appreciates my work is pretty good, even if I can count my effective audience on one hand. So, if I never touched the masses, at least I touched someone.

    What was the question again?

  2. I have not had a chance to be picked apart... this is the first attempt at writing of any kind. But if my
    All of my feedback has been great, but my book is not finished, and it has only been family to look at it. So I feel like the truth is not always there. Even if it really is there I would not believe it...
    Book was to be made into a film.
    My dream audience would be a crowd of mixed ages and genders. That oohed and ahed in all the right places and when they left the film or play, they would leave the theater in a Buzz talking about what they just saw..
    I can dream, can't I?

  3. I have never written with any other purpose than to complete an assignment. Still my writing has meaning for me, and I want it to have said something to the reader.

    When I do share a paper with someone outside of class, I want to know what she thought of it. Often times, I get responses like "It was well written" or "Good job, niece." Nice comments to be sure, but the reader hasn't told me anything substantive. Still, I want to know did she think about it. Give me some feedback with some meat on it, please!

    I don't think I will ever feel compelled to write like Stephanie or you, Shakespeare. However, when I do bravely share my work with another, I wish for honest feedback. An audience of one is okay with me. Just give me some indication that what I've written had any meaning to you.