I wanted to write a post about audience and criticism and how we hope to not write into a void. I wanted to think about the phrase ‘dance like nobody’s watching’, but also Shanna’s point that we are responsible for what we write: ‘As a writer, tone matters’. I think of Craig's post on Amazon Vine and felt childish.
Audience matters. Criticism, feedback matters. Recklessness, bravery, contradiction, consideration, perversity all matter. Everything matters. When you are writing, everything matters.
I believe that a writer is also their own audience. That it’s hard to see one’s own work from the outside, because we are so blinded by our own motivations sometimes; and equally it’s hard to see a criticism from the inside because we are also blinded by our reactions. We have to move back and forth, each time abandoning more, each time gaining.
I think so much of writing is digging. Out of the dark, towards understanding, towards clarity. Reading is a part of writing and that is also digging. I am maybe not making any sense, I am maybe just turning over earth now and getting hypnotised by the smell of fresh loam and metaphor. Try harder. Write more. Cut more. Try again. Fail more, fail better.
Writing means being audience and performer by turn.
I am taking lessons at the moment. I asked Alana Noel Voth if she’d take me on as a writing pupil and she did and I’m loving, thoroughly loving the process of being challenged and criticised. I’m so lucky to have found a wonderful teacher. I think not all great writers make great teachers, but maybe the best are so used to being both empathic and honest that they make the best teachers, too.
I’m also lucky that I find myself among writers who are eloquent, hard working, thoughtful, honest, brave and kind. All of these writers teach me, all the time.(I wanted to pepper that sentence with links to the people I’m thinking of, but I realised that would be unnecessary.) Everything matters. Everyone matters.
As a writer, here’s a blessing: may we have good criticism. By which I mean not positive or negative necessarily, but honest, clear and fair. Thank you.