Saturday, December 09, 2006

on writing

Pretty much my blog would be a lot more fun if I posted on it more often.

And that's not a very good lead to get people to keep reading. I've been perusing through a book by William Zinsser called On Writing Well and have found it both fun to read and enlightening. He is a good critic of writing.

I feel inept to write about it, but I'll try. One chapter called "The Lead" is about how to hook your reader. And it made me laugh when he talked about those cliche intros that he's fed up with, like how something 'conveniently' happened just last Saturday....

But what really hit home was in his chapter "Audience". He said forget about them. Write for yourself. Not to contradict what he had just said about style and simplicity and making your writing readable. But nevermind about the audience and their preference. Just write what you like. If you think it's funny, write it. Around a year ago I suddenly felt like a lot of people were reading my blog. Which was probably misconceived. But at the time I had thought I would only have a few close friends and family read it, and when I found out that more people knew about it, I suddenly got writer's block. Hogwash. Nevermind about who will read it and if they think my subtle allusions and jokes are funny. Or if they get them. If I enjoy it, fine. And let those who get it keep reading.


So, I'm just getting excited about the trip home for Christmas. Don't get me wrong - I've been excited about being home, the break, the family, the presents, the traditions for weeks now. But I just have started to get excited about the actual adventure. I hadn't decided how I would get home until just the other day (fo' real). I'm not going to fly. I don't like flying. And I don't like making commitments about precisely when I'm going to leave on my vacation. And I love driving. And so suddenly I'm overcome with the excitement of another road trip and all it brings. I don't have to stress about how presents will be packed and fit in my bag. I can anticipate long hours of contemplation, listening to music, hearing a book on tape. And best of all I can stop and visit family in Durham. So it will be great. (Speaking of readership, perhaps I better 'invite myself' to Durham before I tell the world I'm coming.)


Leah said...

Kate, I think falling into the trap of thinking "What is my readership?" and (for blogs) "What type of post gets more responses than others?" is a tempting one. Though not fully convinced that ignoring one's audience is a rule always to obey, I think that we have to give ourselves space to practice and enjoy our own writing, thereby at times being "boring" or "unmeaningful" to others. We write for others, but we also write for ourselves.

ken said...

interesting thoughts. we'll have to have a conversation about leads some time.

i suppose how much you think about audience depends somewhat on the form of writing (blog, research paper, newspaper article, etc.). but a blog, i agree, i would write for myself. presumably, people are reading because they know you and want to hear what you have to say and like the way you say it.

all of which, in this case, are true. you write like you talk, i think, which is usually a good thing, but not always so easily accomplished.