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.