Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Who For?

James Joyce’s wife, Nora Barnacle, once asked him, “Why don’t you write books people can read?”

Now if your name is Nora Barnacle, (can you beat that?) I suppose you can say anything.

But this brought up a question anyone who does anything will eventually post to self: who are you doing it for?

Clearly, James’ audience wasn't Nora.
My late father said to me, more than once, “why do you write for younger readers? When will you write for real people?”

I know. You’re shaking your head. Kids are real people, you’re thinking. My father knew that. But he wanted me, I’m guessing now, to write for older folks. Such as himself.

I don’t like to answer for others. But at some point it’s good to ask oneself who you are reaching out to when you imagine a reader.

It’s easy for me, almost too easy. I write for the child I was, and still am. 

15 comments:

  1. Me too--I aim to write the sort of books I remember wanting to read as a child. But I suspect if my father was still alive, he'd be broken-hearted that I wasn't writing the Great American Novel. :)

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  2. So true. It's the first rule of marketing--understand your audience. I think I write to the same kid too--that is me when I was little.

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  3. I think in one way or another we all write for ourselves first and then for our intended audience.

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  4. I'm with you. I write for the younger version of myself and hope today's teens are a lot like her. ;)

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  5. Exactly! I'll have to remember this, if I'm ever asked why I write for a younger audience than me. Though I still feel sixteen... ;)

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  6. The book I'm working on now I'm writing with my daughter in mind. Almost everything is for her tastes.

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  7. I have been thinking about this a lot lately, Mirka. And a writer/editor friend of mine recently asked me the same thing about a PB manuscript I am currently revising. Very timely post--thank you!

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  8. That Ulysses cartoon is hilarious. And I love your reasoning for your audience.

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  9. Great post! I think we tend to not write for just a person or type of person, but I also think each writer has a natural voice and story telling technique that tends to fit one genre better than the other. I think when a writer finds where they're most comfortable writing, that's where they're going to hang out.

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  10. A good question to ask yourself, though I worry less about that and more about making the story work :-) My father seemed surprised that he actually enjoyed my books even though they're "not for him." I suspect your father would have felt the same.

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  11. Was asking myself that question, and a ghostly reflection of my younger self (aged 9) floated up. I write for that me.

    *Nora Barnacle ~ what a Dickensian name!

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