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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Who Are You People, And What Do You Want From Me?

Playing in the background: The U.S. Figure Skating Championships (ice dancing, unfortunately)
Meters swum today: Zero

If you haven’t yet treated yourself to “Slings & Arrows,” the Canadian comedy about a theater company with more than its fair share of problems, head over to Netflix and add a couple of episodes to your list. If you have, you’ll recall that Geoffrey Tennant, the famously insane director of the New Burbage Shakespeare Festival, gets a little loopier than usual in Season Three and ends up seeing a therapist - well, a priest. Geoffrey has spent much of the series trying to deal with the ghost of Oliver, the former artistic director who got offed in the first episode of Season One. (No spoilers there; it was pretty much the premise of the series.) The priest notes that most artistic types have an ideal audience for which they do their art, and maybe Oliver is that audience for Geoffrey. This whole discussion would have been more beneficial for Geoffrey if Oliver hadn’t dropped in to listen, but hey, that’s what ghosts do. Or what Oliver did, anyway.

I imagine that more folks than artistic types have ideal audiences. There’s probably plenty of architects who design buildings to impress their sweeties and sharp-tongued waitresses who get into squabbles with customers just so they’ll have stories to tell at the next after-church social. Certainly Joan was going to law school to make her mother happy. And I–well, here’s where it gets interesting. Who the heck am I writing for anyway? Who is my ideal audience?

Stephen King suggested that for most folks, the ideal audience was someone you sleep with, or had slept with in the past, or hope to sleep with at some point in the future. For me, that would be Joan, but that wouldn’t work very well. Joan likes to read practically everything. I gotta admit I was a little worried when she first took the job at the public library; dropping an omnivorous reader into a building full of 1.3 million books on every subject imaginable would be kind of like me going to work at a cake decorating shop. Well, that part ended happily, but my writing doesn’t register much of a blip on her radar. I’m not hurt, though, because nothing registers much of a blip on her radar. She likes all of it all the time, or at least while she’s reading it. Then it’s forgotten because she’s reading something else, so as ideal audiences go, she kind of sucks.

Existential questions like this are always dangerous. If Joan isn’t my ideal audience, then who is? I went rummaging around in my mental Rolodex, where I found and discarded a number of possibilities. Kevin? No. He’s cool, but I don’t need to impress him. Some theoretical agent somewhere? If so, I haven’t found her/him yet. My writers group? No. We’re more of a mutual admiration society, and there’s not a thing wrong with that. So who, then?

I have this uncomfortable feeling it might be my mother.

Why would that be bad? Well, for one thing, my mother has absolutely no interest in my writing. She doesn’t even read this blog (and yes, she does know it exists). Does she need to be? I mean, does giving birth to a person require one to be interested in what that person is up to for the next 60 or so years? If Dr. Alfred Kinsey were my son, say, would I be interested in the life cycle of the North American gall wasp? Would I need to fake it if I wasn’t? I don’t have any kids, just cats, so it’s hard for me to say. I’m fascinated by my cats, though. My current question: Why does Caesar sit with his back to me while I’m meditating? Is he playing temple guard kitty or is he just embarrassed?

Well, that aside, I’m left with the question of what to do when one’s ideal audience isn’t interested in playing along. Does one try to find a new ideal audience? Can one even do that? Or is the ideal audience something you’re stuck with, like red hair and freckles, unable to be removed except by plastic surgery and toxic chemicals?

What is the audience for this blog? I don’t think a lot about that, actually. I just slop stuff out there and whatever happens, happens. Apart from the child abuse posts, though, which I just sort of need to get out there, I rather like to be liked. So who’s my ideal audience? Hello, guy in Bangladesh, whoever you are. Welcome back.

One of my other cats, Sparrow, just walked across the keyboard. She typed a rather impressive number of brackets with her left back paw, like so: {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{ It appears that the question of who is my ideal audience will have to wait until another day. For the next thirty minutes, I have an audience, and she wants to be scratched behind the ears.

1 comment:

Improvedliving said...

I like the pic you used in your header. It shows the traditional pic of Buddha.

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