Sunday, March 15, 2009

Mon semblance, mon frere h/t Baudelaire

reader, the--the remote individual, unknown to the writer, who will read and react to the writer's work; persons known to the writer who will read the writer's work; individuals who know the writer, and who are also writers, who will read the writer's work; critics or individuals who consider themselves as critics, who will read the writer's work; persons who have some issue with the writer's ethnicity, lifestyle, religion or lack thereof, who will nevertheless read the writer's work; persons in search of artistic and emotional insights who will read the writer's work; individuals who will deliberately or innocently misconstrue the writer's work; persons who will read the writer's work in hopes of evolving their own writing ; persons who will read the writer's work in hopes of finding mistakes the writer has made; individuals who are convinced they can concoct and render better stories than the writer; individuals who are willing to experience transformative moments while reading the writer's work; persons who had never considered looking at some person, place, thing, or condition until they saw it portrayed in a writer's work; a person who is seeking a miracle and who has come to the writer; an individual the writer must simultaneously forget entirely and keep entirely in mind.

The writer/reader relationship is complex, somewhat of a piece with exchanging highly personal secrets with a fellow passenger on a trip, done with the knowledge of the separate and remote lives each party lives, of the unlikely prospect of their meeting again. And yet. Some writers have a following, some readers anxiously await a new work from a writer.

Readers who admire particular writers often feel as though the writer knows them personally, is writing directly to them, a state of emotion and mind not far removed from the unfortunate individual who sincerely believes that the anchor person of the six o'clock news broadcast is directing him through code and inference to commit acts of violence on behalf of some moral or political cause.

The reader/writer relationship is a partnership of selfishness. Under optimal circumstances, each party profits enormously. The path to achieving that partnership is filled with distraction, frustration, and the underlying subtext that each contact may be the last, a subtext that tempts the writer to want to say more and the reader to ask more.

One way to approach the relationship begins with the writer, who writes the first draft as though it were a deeply held secret, brought out into the daylight in a moment of recklessness. In subsequent drafts, the writer adds relevant details to the extent that he now feels the secret is out of the darkness and visible for what it is, at which point the writer becomes increasingly more aware of the reader, simultaneously adding such details as he believes the reader may ask, removing such details as he believes the reader will already know. Thus the equation of the Reader/Writer relationship: shared secrets.


Anonymous said...

How many secrets can (should?) one person share?

Kate Lord Brown said...

'Misery' - every writer's worst nightmare?