Saturday, January 27, 2007

Imaginary Readers

I knew a guy in University, who wanted to be an author. His path to this goal was interesting. He would sit down at this typewriter, and produce pages of "flow of consciousness" writing every night. He had piles of it, which he showed me, and I read a few pages. Flow of consciousness writing consisted of him just typing out whatever odd thought popped into his mind. There was no plot, sentence structure or grammar. It was a rambling mish-mash of words, and after a half-page I was bored to tears.

He told me he was developing his art, as Hemingway had. He wanted to set down his thoughts and eventually refine the process enough that he would produce a work that would set the literary world abuzz. It was Art, with a capital A.

I view writing as a discipline. The writer has to convey his meaning to the reader in the most spare of mediums, black and white print. The only tools at the writers disposal are the tools of language. Good grammar, in order to convey meaning without ambiguity. Excellent punctuation, and understanding of sentence and paragraph structure, in order to avoid fatiguing and confusing the reader. A well thought out plot, in order to entertain. A writer will draft a piece, write it, and re-write it several times before it is finished. That requires a great deal of discipline.

My acquaintance wasn't refining his Art. He was being self indulgent, and avoiding reality. If he had sat down, and analysed Hemingway's works, he would have realised something. Hemingway is a master of grammar and punctuation. His sentences are perfect, his paragraphs well formed. That's why he is considered a master of American literature. I don't like reading Hemingway, but I have to give him credit. The man knew his craft.

I'm not sure why I thought of my acquaintance. I think perhaps this Blog might be the reason. I write these pieces very quickly, without any drafting and little editing apart from a spell check, and a quick run-through for obvious grammar errors. I suppose this is my form of stream of consciousness writing. Even so, I have to apply a theme to each entry.

In the end, a writer is nothing without a reader. So a writer must always write with the reader in mind, even if that reader is an imaginary person. It's a whimsical notion, and one I quite like. Some people have imaginary friends, I have always had imaginary readers.


iPotato said...

Awww, you imagined me! How sweet.
I'm promoting you to blackbelt.

Tinkerbelle said...

Great, no I'm replying to my imaginary readers when they send me imaginary comments.... My brain is melting!

I know Imagine-fu!