November 4, 2012

Who are you writing to?

In Richter’s background on Reader Response Theory, he argues that the true meaning of a written work is formed in the mind of the reader as a response to the author’s written work. While this seems kind of obvious, it is actually kind of mind-blowing. Especially if you’re a writer. If one subscribes to this theory, you can never be sure that what you write will land the way you want it to with anyone, which is a daunting thought. Every writer has felt this. If you’ve ever said, “That didn’t go over the way I thought it would,” even if it isn’t in terms of something you wrote on paper for someone to read, you know that this is true. So then the dilemma is this: Do you try to be so good at writing that every reader responds close to what you wanted, or do you accept that everyone will react differently and just hope that there will be an audience with whom it really sticks? I think the best way to go is the second. It means you can write what you want, how you want to write it. It gives you the freedom to write to the hypothetical audience who loves the same things you love. And that kind of reaction would be so much more rewarding.

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