Thursday, December 24, 2009

Call me Ishmael

Call me Ishmael. Scratch that. Call me Stupid. It’s a better fitting name and it’s one I’m more used to hearing.

As you may or may not know, my name is Ashley. I picked this week’s theme which is an amalgamation of the seasonal ‘Christmas presents’ and the writerly question ‘who do we write for?’ It seemed like a good idea back in October. When I read PS Haven’s take on the theme (which will be up here this weekend) I thought it was a sensational idea. But now, moments away from posting this blog, I’m beginning to think I’ve had better ideas.

Hence the reason why you can call me stupid.

So far this week my fellow authors have delivered Christmas presents in the form of enchanting and exciting stories. Lisabet, Devon, Michelle and Garce are all wonderful storytellers and they’ve proved themselves this week with typical aplomb. I’m looking forward to Helen’s take on this topic tomorrow because she always produces wonderful copy. However, if you’re expecting a short story from me this week, I’m going to disappoint you.

That said, if you’ve read my blogs before, you’ll be used to being disappointed.

The reason why I thought this was a good idea for a theme (aside from the Christmassy connection) was because, when seriously appraising any piece of fiction, I always look at the structure, form, content and audience.

The first two of those items are the bare bones of writerly practice. Content is self-explanatory. But audience is always something of a puzzle.

There have been some good answers to the question so far this week. Who do we write for? Do we have an ideal reader? Is our writing the product of a social construct, crafted to suit an audience of peers? Or do we simply write to fulfil the need of an arbitrary call for submissions?

I’d love to be able to say I write just to please myself but that’s only ever half of the story. I get pleasure from writing, certainly. But do I only write for that pleasure? I’m not so sure. Do I have an ideal reader in mind when I start tapping out staccato rhythms on my ergonomic keyboard? Not really.

I was out Christmas shopping last week. I saw a lady of surprisingly senior years dressed like a teenager. Immediately, I nudged my son and pointed the woman out. In a whisper, I said to him, ‘Nana Montana.’

Junior went red with a fit of barely suppressed giggles.

I smiled, smugly pleased with myself for making my son laugh.

Admittedly it was cruel humour. Freud suggested that all humour is either innocent or tendentious and this was viciously tendentious. It was sexist, ageist, judgemental and not particularly pleasant. However, it made my son laugh, it made me smile, and, in our defence, I should say that neither of us was callous enough to share our twisted mirth with the woman who was the brunt of our joke.

And that’s why I write. I don’t write for a particular audience. I write solely to entertain. Whether that entertainment falls under the category of humour, erotica, horror, poetry or something else, whenever my fingers start smacking against the keys I’m ultimately writing with the purpose of satisfying a reader’s need. Entertaining them for the duration of the words on the page.

So, if you’ve smiled once whilst reading this: it was written expressly for you. If any of the above words have made you muse thoughtfully: they were written just for you. And, if you’re here at the bottom of the page thinking ‘What the hell was Stupid writing about this week?’ then I have to apologise and say this was written for someone else.

Merry Christmas everyone. And, whether you enjoyed this or not, thank you for reading.

Ash

16 comments:

  1. Correction: you write solely to entertain... and occasionally get paid!

    Nana Montana... SNERK! I'm going to have to remember that one. It is cruel, but it also will probably apply to me in a few more years ;)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Helen,

    Thank you.

    The Nana Montana line was horribly cruel, although it still flashes through my mind now whenever I see a glamorous granny. I suspect I'm going to hell.

    Best,

    Ash

    ReplyDelete
  3. That said, if you’ve read my blogs before, you’ll be used to being disappointed.

    Au contraire!

    And your post, though entertaining as always, also articulates what I think is a very important truth: that often the nature of what we create decides the audience, rather than vice versa.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Jeremy,

    You're too kind. And I wish I'd been able to say, as succinctly, that the nature of what we create decides the audience.

    Happy Holidays,

    Ash

    ReplyDelete
  5. Stupid... errr...Ashley!

    *Grinning* I've read many of your posts and have yet to be disappointed. Confused, yes, often, but never disappointed.

    I've had readers ask me who I write for. I'm actually in the middle of doing an interview that includes the question. It's difficult, but perhaps you've made it a little clearer. I write for whoever reads my work and hope there are a lot of them out there who've found it. LOL Would I write if no one ever paid me again? Yes. Would I be happy about it? No. That paycheck has become pretty important to me, no matter how small it may be.

    Great post and I hope you and your family have an awesome Christmas, a fantastic New Year and many more of both!

    Hugs

    ReplyDelete
  6. Jude,

    Merry Christmas to you. Let us know when and where we can see that interview - and have a wonderful family day tomorrow.

    Best,

    Ash

    ReplyDelete
  7. Ash,

    Wonderful post, as always.

    Michelle

    ReplyDelete
  8. Merry Christmas Ashley...and thank you! I've been trying to describe in humorous form what was witnessed several years ago, and what another close friend witnessed last week at the mall! 'Nana Montana' very nicely sums it up:) LOVE it!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Michelle,

    Thank you.

    Have a great Christmas,

    Ash

    ReplyDelete
  10. Molly,

    I'm delighted I've nailed the description for you.

    Happy Holidays,

    Ash

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi Ashley!

    You;re way too hard on yourself, I've always looked forward to your posts. I've cruised around other blogs, no names, and actually this one is one of the most truly interesting. Every day is a surprise, including yours always. This is a good blog. We're all good bloggers here.

    I like your topic too. I dropped the ball on it in many ways in my case, I didn;t catch on to the actual topic until Wednesday night. But its a good topic and I want to come back to it some day. I missed something good this week.

    Merry Christmas to you Ashley, over there in the land of Charles Dickens!

    Garce

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hey Ashley,

    I've *never* been disappointed by your posts, and this one is no exception! I've always envied your ability to kindle laughter. (It's a skill I'm studying here at OGG.)

    I agree with Garce, there are few blogs that I've read as varied, entertaining, thought-provoking and occasionally inspirational as the Grip.

    Merry Christmas!

    Warmly,
    Lisabet

    ReplyDelete
  13. Garce & Lisabet,

    Thank you both. In the original version of this post I did mention that it was an absolute pleasure writing alongside such wonderful bloggers but for some reason I cut the comment for the final draft. However, the sentiment remains true and it's a total joy having my work on here next to everyone who writes for the Grip and being associated with such a talented team.

    Best wishes to everyone here for the holiday season and for the forthcoming year.

    Sincerely,

    Ash

    ReplyDelete
  14. I'm not sure I have ever read something written by you, Ashley, that has not resulted in my smiling, laughing, or feeling in some way moved.

    (Wow, it seems that would imply that it was all written expressly for me...thank you!)

    Best to you. :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Emerald,

    Thank you. And I'm dellighted you've realised it was all written for you ;-)

    Best,

    Ash

    ReplyDelete
  16. Wonderful and truly resonant post, Ash! Soooo NOT Stupid! Puh-lease! You've been so welcoming and wonderful, here's a big cyber hug! (())

    ReplyDelete