Thursday, 7 July 2011

Writing To An Audience

I'm participating in this contest. It's a fun contest, an endurance competition as much as quality. And the thing about having an endurance competition is that you get to know your audience, the judge, pretty well.

I've found that freeing in a lot of ways. Most of the other writing I do, I have in mind for a wider audience. I want to communicate my ideas clearly to a wide range of people. With this, I only need to appeal to one.

That came to the forefront with this round, which included a prompt for a poem. I wrote my poem and had four people read it. Four people who were not the judge, one of whom was also a participant in the contest. Of those four people, only one of them understood the subject matter of the poem, which was particularly dense and opaque.

If it were for any situation other than this contest, that would have sent me into paroxysms of editing anguish.

But this poem was for this contest, to be read and parsed and understood by one judge. I knew he'd get it, so I took their comments about flow and meter to heart for my revisions and tweaked it before submitting it, ignoring their suggestions to make it less opaque.

My faith turned out to not be misplaced: the judge understood the subject matter. I'd gotten through to my audience.

Most of the time, most of us aren't lucky enough to be writing for an audience of one. But what would our writing be like if we were?

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