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January 16, 2001

Writing for an Audience

There's a joke that's probably as old as Vaudeville, where a speaker says something like this:

I've received many kind comments from my fans, and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank both of you.

This isn't very far from the truth. Terebi has one confirmed reader, my sister. It might have as
many as two other regular readers, though neither have informed me in
email that they do or don't read the log, so I have to go with
one confirmed reader.

Now granted, if I look at the most read messages, I have to assume that some of these people are
stopping to actually read my essays. I know people often just
come, look at a page and move on, but my Furi Kuri review
has had 366 hits to date! I have to assume that maybe ten percent of
those visitors actually read the thing.

Still, Terebi doesn't have enough traffic to rise to the level of
having a demographic "qbullet.smiley". So why do I insist on writing
this as if I were addressing an audience of more than three? Especially
as I range over topics which are bound to be a total bore to most of
those three?

Well, why for centuries have some people kept journals where
every entry began "Dear Diary", or more baroquely, "Dear Reader?"
Because, I believe, it motivates one to place those thoughts in
print. Otherwise we'd all just run around churning our internal
monologue like everybody, and accomplish much the same thing.

Not the same thing, really. When you write for an audience, even a
presumed audience, you actually have to pull your thoughts out
and structure them. Sometimes you have to think about the motivating
pressures behind the day's events, sometimes you actually admit you did
something stupid or embarassing, rather than just engaging in
"Esprit d'Escalier". Have I admitted to stupid-fu yet?

Finally, writing here in public, presuming a wider audience, a phantom
presence which in my mind is a composite of my friends and some
sympathetic strangers, I let it hang out somewhat. I'll always assume a
role, when in public, constraining the tooth-gnashing id which rages in
my head, but you'll still see a little more of me here than when I'm
just talking about family, or just talking about computer games, or
just--you get the idea.

Besides, this is all very ephemeral. Any day now, the Userland folks may
decide to take their ball and go home. Then this entire web site
disappears into the mist. Or maybe not. In any case, I'll
write my words in the sand as if somebody will see them before the tide
comes in.

Posted by dpwakefield at January 16, 2001 03:03 PM