Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Know my audience?

I don’t know who my audience is. There, easy, this blog took all of ten seconds.

Happy Easter and goodnight.

Okay, okay…

My audience? This was one of the subject titles I thought of long ago when I first wanted to blog. I had a whole bunch of subjects I found interesting, all related to writing of course, and figured I would get around to them all eventually. As it was Easter this weekend this topic seemed suitable as I have a few things to say on who I think I am writing for and who I think would enjoy my stories.
            It made me think of being young. I don’t remember the exact day, or how old I was but I was at primary school when I knew that I enjoyed reading and when I understood there was a connection between how people communicate and how people read. I understood for instance that I took more from one book than a friend would because I felt I was being spoken to, and vice versa, I knew that some books other people ‘got’ more than I did. I didn’t know how it worked, what skill or intelligence or secret was involved in communicating to people through words, but I knew it existed and that never really left me.  I also knew, without reason, that what I enjoyed reading was different to what I enjoyed writing. For instance I loved reading Lord of the Rings, but I knew that I wanted to write The L Shaped Room or Brighton Rock. I have read a lot since then and I still haven’t figured out why something appeals to some and not to others but I like it that way. It’s what makes all of our passions different. It is also why I feel confident that when I write, I am writing for myself, but with the never-spoken understanding that someone out there will ‘get it’ even if the majority do not.
            As I was thinking back to being a kid something surprised me. I live in the same town, I know the same people and I still feel very much like London is my home. Yet, I have changed so much that I think those changes are perhaps what drives me to write and I never really appreciated that before. I want to find out why I have changed, whether or not I like the person I have become, to explore the future I am making for myself. The subjects I feel I need to write about are just an examination of the way I used to think compared to the way I think now, and will my exploration fuel me to think differently tomorrow?
            Let me start with an example and yes, I realise I write this in every blog, but to remind you this is not meant to be a personal blog about me in general, I wanted it to be a focused blog on writing, but as with all subjects things overlap and I am taking a liberty with my restrictions here and there. The example I am taking, because it was Easter, is religion, it could have been politics, it could have been travelling, it could have been a lot of things (I have changed a lot since my teens that’s for sure!)
            So here is me, I think aged around 6 or so, not entirely sure:

You will notice that I am wearing a nice uniform (that my mum lovingly kept the cap from so I still have it; it fits me like the size of a yarmulke now) and if it weren’t hidden by my arm you would see a motto on my blazer, “For God and Mankind we live, we labour.” And here I am some years later in my secondary school with another nice uniform, this time the motto reads, “The King’s good servant but God’s first.” (I had to include this one just to remind myself of what it was like to have hair…)

They are the uniforms and the mottos of Catholic schools (yes, nuns were included). I can’t remember but on this very weekend just gone all those years ago I would have attended mass and celebrated Easter with everyone else (being so young whether or not I truly understood what was going on is another matter, let’s leave that aside for now) but here I am now, aged 33, at home just minutes from both of those schools, and close to several churches, without the slightest inclination to religion at all. Now those who are Christian reading this, I’m not picking on Christianity any more than anything else, it’s just that’s my history so I’m using it, it could easily have been any religion and as I said earlier more importantly to this blog, it could have been any subject! I know the person I was then and I know the person I am now, I have ambitions too about the person I want to be. This is why I feel more confident in why I am writing and in the writing process itself. I have the secure feeling that I am writing to explore those changes, and with that, my views and understanding of the world around me. Let me tell you some of the subjects that interest me and see if you get the idea of what I am getting at:

  • ·      Rich and poor in society.
  • ·      Teenage pregnancy.
  • ·      Divorced parents.
  • ·      Trust in adults.
  • ·      Communication between adults and children.
  • ·      Employment.
  • ·      Science.
  • ·      Love between teenagers.
  • ·      Failure.
  • ·      Becoming an adult in western society.
  • ·      The importance of education for all.
  • ·      The influence of science and education.
  • ·      Coping with loss.
  • ·      Coping with responsibility.
  • ·      Losing friends.
  • ·      Charity.
  • ·      Growing apart from the people you love.
  • ·      Isolation in society.
  • ·      Pressure of society.
  • ·      The concept of success.

I could go on and on here but you get the drift. I find myself interested in things that effect people all around me, not the people I know in particular but the general overview of populations in Western countries I suppose. I don’t know why I don’t want to write fantasy, or science fiction, or murder mysteries, etc. I enjoy those for sure and I still read them on occasion, but for whatever reason I want to write about what feels important to me, and subjects that affect every day life is what feels important. So in that sense I haven’t changed much since I was young, I was drawn to the grittier aspects of real life drama than other genres then, and still today. The reason I brought up religion is that my views are so drastically different to when I was young that it is simply part of my make-up to explore that. I also want to explore my views on charity, on war, on many things that are important to me but it happens to be Easter and it really jumped out at me as being so obvious.
            I don’t feel the need to distance myself from people I have different views from, I hope that I can create stories that appeal to people who want to explore the same issues I do, so I guess in a way, I am writing for them. I am not writing to convert people to one thing or the other, to promote a viewpoint, or to tell people which political party to vote for, or whether GM crops and nuclear energy are a good or bad thing, etc. For anyone who follows my personal Facebook page or Thinking Plainly Facebook page you will notice I try to keep focused on art and literature as much as I can. I do often put the links to charitable efforts or campaign efforts I sign up to such as the 15 year old girl being whipped for sex outside marriage (please sign here: because the modern way to spread those campaigns is to use social media so I don’t apologise for that. However, you won’t find me posting images or messages that play as direct propaganda for its own sake. My personal views are mine and my interest in art and literature is what I want to share with people. This blog is a bit different because this is where I explore why I want to write and I hope you support me in explaining this rather than feeling like I am alienating you, I am not I promise. I want to share with you the things that compel me to write and more than that, inspire me to write and become a better writer! That’s what it is all about isn’t it? Becoming better?
            If I want to explore the conflict that arises when you are faced with real life situations such as abortion or gay marriage then I will, and of course you cannot hide from religion because it is real life. I cannot write around it or conveniently overlook it. I happen to be someone who was once Catholic and is not anymore so that is bound to be something that I want to dissect and examine. What happens to my characters when it is Easter, what happens to create drama, both inside their minds and by result of their actions? I want to explore real life in my writing and I need to be brave enough to create something that is real. Whether or not I will ever be good enough to do so is another matter! I have no lofty literary claims, I don’t see myself more or less important than anyone else because of what I choose to write about and I am at pains all the time to explain I am a novice. When I started this properly last year I thought that a 5-10 year period of development was realistic. I was excited by what could happen but also very honest with myself.
            So back to my audience, if I am writing for myself, to explore myself and to explore the world…who are those mysterious people that might wish to read my work? Am I aiming to write for 5-10 year olds? What about the teen market? Do I hope to capture the 25-35 year old female graduate market? What about people interested in London, am I going for a local following? Am I quick holiday trash! In truth, I don’t know, I really don’t, I know a lot of professional advice says to write for an audience and so on, but let’s face it, I am a total novice, I can’t get further than trying to just make sure I sit down and write at the moment, there is no master plan other than that. I want to get three stories out this year and I have around 10 plus in development and none of them were written with anyone in mind other than me. Some may touch on religion, some may not, but if they do I feel I know why better than I did before. Getting older has helped me feel more secure in writing what I want with honesty and the interest comes from exploring, I am excited by what I will be examining next but whether or not one person reads it is beyond my thinking. I hope people will enjoy my work, but who those people are? I look forward to finding out.

Have a good week.

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