Know Thy Audience, or, What Do You Want from This Blog?

I’m pushing away the pagefright and digging into new territory. Hence, this post. Entirely too long, most likely.

But first, a quick summation might be in order, just so you know where things stand. Everything sucks.

I’m only kidding (mostly).

2015 was ho-hum, if not depressing, globally and personally. I won’t go into unpleasant details. I’m sure many of you remember much of it.

Even with all the good that did actually happen (and that I’m also not going to list), I feel comfortable in closing the book on 2015.

So, then, taking a page—alright, alright, tearing it out, cackling, then running away mischievously—from Donna’s deftly delivered book-o’-blogging (at yadadarcyyada), I’m starting this 2016 post off in song.

But, really. Think about it a moment. What more does a writer want than to be read (or heard, as the case may be in our postmodern podcast era)?  In a very real way, the writing process can be viewed as an artful partnership. It’s art, true, but there can be a palpable aspect to writing, whereby the fruits of the process lead to an exchange of a vision-product (e.g., the book, anthology, short story, podcast file, or novel) with a reader or listener. Many writers, therefore, like to be at least partly mindful of audience. For instance, novelist and WordPresser Curtis Bausse (One Green Bottle, a mystery; French Sally) talks about knowing the target audience vis-à-vis the promotion of your work.

So it is that, with the heralding of a new year, I turn to my readers (and viewers) and ask the open-ended question of what do you want to read (or see) more of here. Leave a comment, tweet me, e-mail me [wordsmithery[dot]email[at]gmail[dot]com], send a smokeless signal, or use semaphore if you wish; I’d love to hear your feedback.

In the meantime, a few stats to amuse or amaze you.

Leigh’s Wordsmithery blog had 40 posts last year (2015) and was viewed approximately 2,400 times. Coincidentally, this mimics the blogger’s lifespan. No, I mean the 40 (years, not decades).

The most visited post was a book review of Robert Okaji’s then-new poetry chapbook, If Your Matter Could Reform. Check with Bob himself, at O at the Edges, to find out the latest, greatest way to purchase this peregrination through regret and remembrance.

I don’t have this aspect statistic-ified, but I’ve read hundreds, maybe thousands, of WordPress blog posts this year and commented on as many photographs, ideas/concepts, and stories or novels-in-progress as possible. This was very fruitful, enjoyable, and educational, although I didn’t keep count. Likewise, the number of books I read this year, which, whatever it is, is entirely too few; however, I think I probably should try to be better about demarcating those. [To wit, as of Jan. 4-5: I’m reading Atul Gawande’s “medical literature” title, Better, and a book of writing exercises that was a gift to me from the kidlets.]

This blog’s author also submitted manuscripts various and sundry on 37 occasions (of those logged; there are probably a couple lost to disorganization) in the calendar year 2015. Of those occasions the results are (as of 4 January 2016): 1 hit (aka, an acceptance, publication forthcoming, 2017); 27 misses; 1 non-response; 1 presumed defunct; and 7 results pending.

In the past year on this blog and in freelance submissions, the author has written about the following:

  • A Santa transposition
  • Surviving abuse
  • Xylophones and amnesia (separate prompts)
  • A murderous granny
  • A murderous insect-like alien, possibly female
  • A murderous wife (notice a theme emerging?)
  • A transgender alien riding a “hydrocycle” in a dystopian future
  • Time travel to the “Christmas truce” of 1914
  • 6.66 days of thrilling fiction [on the blog], including Michael Myers Halloween/Halloween fanfiction; marking the longest (8-day) posting streak
  • Wolfish shapeshifters
  • A hearing-impaired superhero
  • Nature and gardening (inclu. introducing the Garden Avenger)
  • Literary fiction on a dysfunctional family plagued by racism
  • Infectious diseases galore!

So, the question remains: would you like to see anything in particular on this blog? Not like to see something? Not care either way? Inquiring minds want to know and writing operators are standing by to log your input, like this pale but cheerful one (on the left, the one with the pen)! If you’ve got an opinion, please feel welcome to share it. And I do hope you’ll come back sometime soon.

Operators are standing by_Cheap Trick

 

If You Were a Book . . . ?

arcimboldo-the librarian

“The Librarian,” by 16th-century Italian painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo.

If I were a book . . . Hmm.

I’m not talking about some macabre flesh-bound book, or the “art” of anthropodermic bibliopegy, but rather what works of literature have molded your world and mind.

A local bookstore got me thinking about this topic, by way of a novel called The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry and a National Public Radio (NPR) piece on Gabrielle Zevin’s aforementioned book.

If a book were my “spittin’ image,” what would that book be? And, moreover, if I could stretch it out to three books, what books would make the list? Back in March 2014, NPR even called for a tweet-out on the three books that summarize or define you, with the hashtag #my3books.

I would love to hear your answers on #my3books. Like Zevin mentions in the interview, you have to resist the impulse to present a facade as yourself. Perhaps everyone wants to think that the perfect novel or even the “Great American novel” — whatever you perceive that fits into either category — epitomizes him/herself. So I tried my best to take off the mask. And keep it off.

Here’s my list. What’s on yours? (Yes, I’m trying to not do the Samuel L. Jackson “Capital One” impression here.)

  1. “The Scarlet Ibis,” a tragic short story about brothers and grit and regret, by North Carolina writer James Hurst. (There are some typos in this link, but it’s the best online copy I could find for you at this point.)
  2. I’m cheating here, but the next influential book is actually a nexus of horror books that sparked in me the desire to become a writer: Watchers by Dean R. Koontz, Night Shift and Skeleton Crew by Stephen King, and Book of the Dead (edited by John Skipp and Craig Spector).
  3. Four Quartets, by T.S. Eliot.

Also relevant to my fellow writers is the introspection-invoking discussion at Ionia Martin’s Readful Things Blog, in the article “A question for the authors out there.” Do you read in your genre, outside of it only, both, or none? Please share your insights in the comments, here or there or anywhere (as Dr. Seuss might write)!

And remember: to read is to travel through time (thank you, astrophysicist Carl Sagan).