Who do I write for? It’s a question I have to ask every time I fire up the blog, the word processor, or indeed pen and paper. For the sort of nonfiction articles that I’m asked to create, it’s safe to assume that it’s for adults. The topics over the years have ranged from fashion and technology reviews, through to dating advice, recipes, and politically flavoured opinion pieces.
The tone is usually therefore not too different, although some may have a lighter or more informal feel depending on the nature of the article. I generally assume that my audience on this blog is also adult enough, in the sense of maturity, to enjoy a range of blitherings without screaming about offended sensibilities too often.
My fiction too, I am again assuming, will be read by adults, rather than catering for a Young Adult audience, who seem to be a large set of consumers of the sort of urban fantasy I’m currently writing. The very act of saying that though, has made me question why it has even occurred to me as a distinction.
My reading habits when I was a wee nipper were as voracious as they are now, and I quickly read my way through both local and school libraries’ children’s collections that I had to get special dispensation at school and at my local library to get adult books out on my child ticket. The YA category of books didn’t really exist as a distinct field then, and largely consisted at my local library of a mix of film adaptations, Z for Zachariah, and books at the older end of the children’s range, such as some of Judy Blume’s books dealing with puberty and sexuality.
I wasn’t particularly interested in this shadowy section, hidden behind the music tapes, and went straight for the fantasy, horror, and science fiction sections because that fantastical sense of open possibilities felt more in tune with the anarchic humour of Asterix, the adventures if Tintin and the exploits of the Hardy Boys that had got me hooked on reading in the first place.
To this day I’m not generally exercised by the thought of reading general fiction, despite my rounded literary education through my degree studies. Give me genre fiction and suspend my disbelief, rather than explore the human condition as experienced by yummy mummies in London rediscovering their self worth through shopping and gossip (to scrape a few stereotypes together).
So really the fiction I’m writing is for the slightly weird kid that I was as I first started reading adult fiction, but informed by the hopefully more complex sensibilities and experiences that I’ve developed along the way.
One of the big decisions I’ve made about this blog though has also been to not write under a nom de plume; to own and talk about things in my own voice, and that’s surprisingly hard sometimes. I talk reasonably openly about my depression and life, hopefully without it turning into an exercise in washing my dirty linen in public. Part of the calculations I have to do therefore relates again to my audience.
Friends and family read this blog too, and they do challenge me regularly about the things I write. Given my past history, sometimes it’s with concern for my health and sometimes it’s to call me daft and set me straight where I’ve gone off the rails. If that sounds like a challenge, you’d be right, especially when I think about writing about things that may distress or embarrass people. But that awareness of my audience and the responsibility of putting my own name to things, I feel, is a healthy thing for my writing.
It reminds me to be aware of the feelings and situations of people that I might write carelessly about – whether by venting carelessly or disclosing information that people might not all be comfortable with having known by a wider audience. It’s why I use substitute names for other people for example. Their identities are not necessarily any great secret, but it means that I’m not putting them as much in the spotlight when essentially talking out loud about myself.
So, who do I write for? Myself, I guess, but you’re welcome along for the ride and I hope you enjoy it too.