Tuesday, 23 February 2010

The Sound of One Hand Clapping

You start with an audience of one – yourself. Sometimes you think what you've got to say is great, sometimes you think it's terrible, sometimes you haven't got a clue either way.

So you push it out to your number one reader – your lover perhaps, a family member, a close friend. Maybe you trust them, maybe you don't. Maybe they tell you want you want to hear, maybe they don't.

So you push it out wider, to your crit group, other friends. Sometimes they love it, sometimes they hate it, sometimes they don't say anything at all.

Maybe you go further - put it online, a blog, a writer's community, an online slush-pile – before you know it, hundreds of people have read your writing; you have more feedback than you know what to do with, sometimes people agree, but most often their responses are different, unique, and completely surprise you – like they were reading a different book.

You're looking for the answer, the goal, the signpost that says, do this, and your work will be finished.

You begin to realise that while the whole world can have an opinion on your work, it's only you that can fix it. This is your story, your voice, your insight – the creative responsibility lies with you, and you alone.

You write to be read – don't forget that – you have to take your audience seriously and listen to what they say. But the truth remains, while anyone can read your work, only you can write it.

And it won't be finished until it's published. And probably not even then.

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