I fancy myself a writer. If you put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, recording your thoughts, dreams and stories, then you are indeed a writer, so I fulfill the functionary prerequisite. I started thinking about this from the perspective of the reader. Who do I write for? I mean, I write stuff that is interesting to me and that I would like to read, but if I really was just writing for myself, there is no reason to write it down at all. I can just think about it. I must be writing to share with someone. Who? Who is my audience?
When I read Hemingway, McCarthy, or any great writer (and there are many), I’m amazed at their prose. Some read quite purple and flowery, and some are immaculate and intense. Still others are so refined, it’s evident that I am not their intended audience, but I marvel at the literary quality. Whom are they writing for?
I’ve heard writing referred to as weaving a tapestry of words. If that is true, then I don’t think my writing is like making tapestries. I think I make t-shirts with amusing slogans on them like ‘Who Farted?’ Or ‘I’m with stupid’ with an arrow pointing up. I’m fine with that. There is quite a market for amusing t-shirts, after all.
So there it is. I’m writing for the every man. I’m writing stories that I hope appeal to the average person, who does average things in an average way. I suppose that makes my writing average as well. I don’t think that means I am settling for less, as I don’t aspire to write things that have limited appeal or may be flawless but dull. I want to have characters the reader identifies with, and above all, I want to tell a good story that has a satisfying conclusion. I hope that I get a laugh occasionally, too.
The one exception is my journal, which I am writing for one person. It’s a leather bound book with lined, acid-free paper, and what I write here is only for my son. I started the journal when the adoption process began. I wrote in it several times a day as we trekked across Ukraine, going from orphanage to orphanage until we finally found him. I drew pictures and maps, and I told my son what I was thinking about him before I had even met him. I still write in it, but now it is more like once or twice every year. Still, I write in it, and it’s important that I don’t forget. When he turns eighteen years old, I will break the seal on the Ukrainian vodka I brought home in 2001, have a drink with my son and I will give him this journal. He will read it for the first time.
Maybe that is really who I write for.