I wonder if for some of us, it's not just "we read to know we're not alone," but also "we write to know we are not alone," and more so now that mass-mediated forms are enabling more and more feedback.
Are some of us who grew up reading for that "a-ha" moment in which someone was able to express something about humanity we ourselves were unable to express now writing in hopes that someone will say back to us that they found the same experience in our writing?
Is that why we (or at least some of us) write? And with the spread of mass/interpersonal communication spaces, are we hoping for that sooner, and on everything we write? Is that part of the vulnerability factor, and part of the shift in expectations? But as things get more interpersonal, the audience size gets closer to interpersonal too, on average--are we still thirsting for mass reach in a mass/interpersonal world? Is this unreasonable, or is this part of the deal of trying to be a successful writer? Or do we just want to get people talking, not necessarily all directed toward us?
What does this desire for publication and success (whatever that is) amount to, anyway? Is it a desire to be talked about and remembered, or to be cool, or is it a desire to converse and bring people together, or what? All of those things? None? Others? How much impact is enough impact in a world that at least says it aims for democracy in communication, where the average blog has, I heard the other day, one visitor? (Talk about your "fit audience but few.")
On a lighter note, Kevin Alexander's written a delightfully tongue-in-cheek article on how to write a quick literary masterpiece, for those yearning for a wide audience and impact. And there's a more serious but delightfully opinionated (nearly cranky, but in a good way) post over at Good Letters on the importance of considering a word's etymology when considering its use.
On a related note, I wonder if the mass/interpersonal convergence thing is why reality shows and celeb gossip are at the points they've gotten to--seeing the "behind-the-scenes," more "personal" world of people on TV helps us feel like we're closer to having an interpersonal connection to them.
I wonder...what do you think?
Friday, October 3, 2008
On Publication, Fame, and Conversation
I'm a writer, an incurable reader, a narrative theorist, a media researcher, a scholar/author/writer/consultant, a PK, and the Queen of Soup Making. I write a lot, and I've taught a wide range of topics in universities. Along my journey I've picked up a PhD in Communication from Purdue and 2 degrees in English. I've been turning my ideas about communication as author-audience relationships into a communication paradigm that can be applied to a wide range of situations. I'm also writing a historical mystery series. I'm a member of Sisters in Crime, and the co-chair of the Mystery and Detective Fiction Caucus of the Popular Culture Association. My MA thesis focused on connections between T. S. Eliot and Thoreau, who each wondered about how to remain still and still moving. Before I went to grad school, I spent 7 years working for a division of HarperCollins Publishers.