Thursday, September 10, 2009

It's all about pleasuring the reader

I've been spending some time looking through my old journals to see if there's anything salvageable in them - poem seeds, ideas for articles or devotions. Here's something from Feb. 08 that I marked to put on this blog:

When you get too flowery, you sound show-offy, or like you're getting carried away -- emptying all your spice bottles into the soup. Flowery stuff is a garnish. Over use it and you sound silly or pompous. When you show off, you serve yourself. Being a writer is being a servant, not of yourself but of your reader.
 
Maybe I was reading one of my favorite how-to books on writing  at the time. Stein on Writing by Sol Stein says the same thing only better (from Chapter 1 "The Writer's Job May Be Different Than You Think"):

"...many writers have inappropriate intentions The four most common I've heard are "I am expressing myself,: I have something to say," "I want to be loved by readers, and I need money." Those are all occasional outcomes of the correct intention which is to provide the reader with an experience that is superior to the experiences the reader encounters in everyday life." - p. 3

"...key to writing both fiction and nonfiction - it has to be a good experience for both partners, the writer and the reader, and it is a source of distress to me to observe how frequently writers ignore the pleasure of their partners. 
    The pleasures of writer and reader are interwoven. The seasoned writer of both nonfiction and fiction, confident in his craft, derives increasing pleasure from his work. The reader in the hands of a writer who has mastered his craft enjoys a richer experience." p. 7

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