The interactive nature of writing is a current subject popular with writers/bloggers. Sometimes the revelations seem too obvious: there is a connection between writers and readers. You think?
I have spent much of my creative life in the theater and during that time the number of schools offering degrees in theater arts has mushroomed. They are ubiquitous. There are probably as many different schools of thought on the proper development and training of the actor.
One long-time friend and colleague discussed this trend with me in this fashion: “Who needs these schools? The best school, the only school, is an audience. They tell you immediately if you are in the ball park.” He is pretty much old school. It reminds me of a well known story of Spencer Tracy and a young Method actor. The two men were appearing in a Broadway play wherein the young Method-Actor had to enter the room exhausted and out of breath. To create this illusion- and one might certainly question this as ‘Method’- he ran out the stage right door and around the block, entering the stage left door and making his entrance, sweaty, out of breath, and appropriately flushed right on cue.
After several dress rehearsals, Tracy, who had watched, quite bemused, asked, “Why do you do that?” The young man looked at the iconic Tracy and with great irony replied, “Why do you go through that door, Mr. Tracy?” Tracy paused and smiled. “Because it’s the only %$#@!& way into the room!”
All creative expressions intended for public consumption are based upon some level of connection with an audience – and of course there are many kinds of audiences and many levels of connection. Success or failure depends on the degree to which meaning, intent, and perception are shared by the writer and his/her audience.
This leads me to consider again this whole issue of self-publishing. I’m not waffling. For the moment, I am still pursuing the traditional query through agents in hope of gaining some representation and hopefully a sale after that. But, if this writer/reader connection or relationship is what it is, and given the huge number of readers in the world – a number that is not diminishing- the traditional gatekeeper to this relationship is changing. The advent of ebooks has changed this equation. It is possible to carve out an audience from these millions and billions of readers through technology that minimizes the need for the hold-it-in-your-hand-paper-bound book- which is expensive. As more readers or searchers for content discover the plethora of material available in places other than brick and mortar stores, this process is changing rapidly.
If you don’t believe me, consider the innovations among traditional publishers to embrace the digital world! Nobody knows how this will shake out and writers will ignore the digital world at their own peril. The possibility that you might find a significant number of like minded individuals for whom your meaning, intent, and perception are a match is more likely than you might imagine. The rub? Can you continue to supply the content to meet the demand?
The audience potential is out there and if you can master the issues of visibility, the audience will teach you to success! That’s the revelation, I suppose.
Connections with words, connections with readers, it has always been the same – but now it is dizzyingly complex and potentially unlimited.