September 10, 2012

Fictional Audience

I thought the part in Ong's article that made it connect for me was fairly early on. On page 10 he talks about the difference in speaking versus writing and what role the audience plays in that. Obviously when we have to public speak the audience is in front of us, causing so much more to go on than when we're by ourselves writing. When I speak in front of people I don't frequently concern myself with whatever it is I'm saying, I concern myself with how I'm saying it and how I look saying it. Vain as that may be, it's true. I tend to worry about the physical characteristics going on because the audience might be able to notice them themselves, and that thought is honestly a little frightening. In writing though, the I'm in my true form.

I can sit with my hair in a nasty bun, unwashed, with no makeup, slouched over my computer in a baggy tee shirt and know that whoever my audience may become with that piece, will never know how I looked when I wrote it. My "fictional" audience will only know what it is I'm saying and they'll only know their interpretation of how I said it, not mine. I take my time with choices regarding diction, punctuation and italics. I ponder over every sentence, every word, to make sure I'm coming off as the most eloquent version of myself, in the hopes that someone somewhere will read it. I, in a sense, create my own audience. I make up this fictional audience and in that fictional world, they respond the way I want them to, they laugh over my clever jokes and think everything I've written is just gold. I include more details, things they can't immediately know but I feel they should. I choose them as carefully as I choose my words because they are who I want to understand me and my work in that moment. Ong talks about the, "audience that fires the writer's imagination. If it consists of the real persons who he hopes will buy his book, they are not persons in an untransmuted state" (pg. 10). I've created them and hope they exist in real life. I had never realized that I do that, but I can honestly say that as any of you read this, I'm planning the way I'd like it to be read and hoping you're somehow, telepathically I guess and through the expression of my idea, picking up what I'm putting down.

1 comment:

James Lannon said...

I was actually just mentioning in my post that I would write picturing someone like myself. Someone who, like you stated, would understand / laugh at my jokes, and get exactly where I was coming from. But what we have failed to consider is the sheer variety in life and experiences each individual has. Some people may have been brought up with very trying and rough circumstance. While others may have never wanted for anything in their life, to them the concepts of hunger, exhaustion, or the word “no” may have been non-existent. Sure the writer is able to create their own audience to experience their work, but the author also has to create a role that the reader can insert themselves into. Are you wanting the people who are reading your story to feel like a close friend, or are you trying to evoke some other sort of emotion like pity or frustration? I think what Ong is trying to say is the audience is a connection between the author and reader, it’s a role where both know what to feel when encountering the message. What is difficult is finding a way to make that connection, to create that role the reader can just meld into. Ong suggests looking to past successful writers works, and why not, learning from the past is something I wish more people could do effectively. I agree with him that emulating a successful style (audience) is a good way to learn how to communicate with the audience, as long as you incorporate some of yourself as well so the style grows and becomes your own.

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