Friday, January 7, 2011

Night and Day

I have heard it said by those who not only actually know how to write - a category of person I would be hesitant to place myself in - but who earn their living doing so that a thing that a writer must do is find a voice in which the writer may speak to and communicate with his audience. Easier said than done I would think. For while it may appear at first glance to be simple to do, it must be considered that the exercise is one that involves what amounts to dialogue on seven-second delay.

Typically the audience neither reads nor hears the writer's words at the moment of creation. Rather, they are digested at an indeterminate time thereafter. Perhaps something has changed between the moment they were made and the moment they were read or heard. Perhaps that something is nothing more than a little thing - mere gossamer if you will - and the lapse of time impacts nothing. Perhaps, on the other hand, it impacts everything.

It is beyond my ability to comprehend just how one who writes finds his or her audience. How one knows intuitively how to reach the other. I am resigned to the fact that I may never know how to do it.

And it occurs to me that the quest of one to intuitively know how to reach the other is not one undertaken solely by those who write. It is in fact a quest that any person who belongs to a family or a community has undertaken too many times to count at this stage in his or her lifetime and probably with too many people to count. And it is a quest that those of us who are members of a family realize has to be made over and over and over again. No, we are not obtuse - well not completely anyway. We are merely malleable.

And because the river of life as we navigate and negotiate our way through it tosses us about time and again, there are times when we are perhaps just a touch out of whack or out of focus. It may in fact make us - a person heretofore accessible and reachable by one or more who love us and who we love - temporarily not so. And when it does, its effect is felt not only within our core but also within the cores of all those who love us and who we love. Our shift in position - however slight and however transient it might be - emanates from us in ever-expanding concentric circles much like ripples along the otherwise pristine surface of the water. And it impacts everything with which it comes into contact. And everyone also.

The trick it seems - the writer's secret if you will - is to recognize the change in your audience, whether subtle or substantial, whether permanent or temporary, and adjust our message accordingly. For if the audience can neither read nor hear the writer's words and discern the meaning of them, then they shall not be an audience at all. The dialogue between one and the other will no longer be one delayed. Rather it will be one denied altogether. Such a result is not beneficial for anyone.

The maddening thing about it - and the part of it that seems both the easiest and the hardest to fix - is recognizing that it is an easy problem to correct. The key seems to be remembering that it is fine to continue talking to one's audience as long as one remembers to listen to them as well. And that sometimes the best way to reach one's audience is to remember that some things are better left unsaid.

For it matters not whatever is written on the page or spoken aloud. Whatever's written in your heart, that's all that matters. Remembering that provides you with a damned good chance of consistently reaching your audience. And of them making you aware that you have.


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