Monday, July 14, 2014

Writing and Your Imagined Audience

Audience. Alhóndiga
Audience (Photo credit: Igorza76)
I’ve found these experiences strange because I’m rarely aware of an audience the rest of the time when writing. Obviously I realise reflectively that people read things that I’ve made public. But this awareness rarely enters into the process of writing itself. 
It makes me second guess, immediately read back over what I’ve written and agonise over word choice and sentence structure. It seems to preclude the sort of ‘flow’ that my orientation towards writing generally leaves me seeking out. It reintroduces my internal conversation into the writing process and I write much more slowly and enjoy it much less. 
This left me thinking about how you make sense of this imagined audience, as internal conversation - it makes me think of pragmatism, with this ‘other’ entering into my inner experience while I write, offering a judgemental gaze in virtue of which I find myself assessing what I have written rather than losing myself in the process of writing. 
But my sense of this other is partial at best and entirely imagined at worst. I don’t really know these audiences and that’s why they’re entering into my writing process in such a censorious way. 
But then again do I know my ‘usual’ audience, the familiar group to which I’m implicitly contrasting these unfamiliar others? I really don’t and I find it oddly unnerving to pursue this line of thought. 
Perhaps if I pursue it too far, I’ll find a real generalised other, in Mead’s sense of the term, entering into my experience of writing and forevermore be prone to self-censoring in the face of its stern yet ephemeral gaze.

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