I am reconsidering my view of Audience.
Heretofore I haven’t really thought about their state of mind, their cultural context, their motives, etc. It’s almost like a forgotten character. I’ve behaved mostly like a self-obsessed artist, ignoring the audience in favor of self-indulgence. I hadn’t really realized it until a post of mine caught the ire of a former colleague. The experience was tense enough that it’s created negative reinforcement in my writing and thinking. My writing is much better because of it, and once it affected my writing, it began to affect my thinking, and I now see all my projects in a new way.
The live event audience wants entertainment. The difficulty of “new genres” of work is that it can confuse the audience. As an artist, I love coloring outside the lines, but I often hurt my cause in the process. I’m thinking they will love me for the sheer genius of the event but I’m often mistaken. Their thinking is more like:
“whadya want to do this weekend?”
“I dunno. There’s a thing at the art crawl”
“what’s it like? Is it free?”
In my magazine articles, I’m not always in a clear genre: is this an article or an essay? is it how-to, or philosophical? Is this just a personal rant? Worse yet, I act like I’m writing for other people just like me… which is hardly ever true. I’m beginning to ask myself some really basic questions while I write: what do they want out of this? how will they use this information?
In my church programming, I forget that the congregation just fought with their family on the way in, spilt their coffee in the car, shuffled their kids to the children’s ministry, pasted a smile on their face and sat down next to their spouse. Here I am trying to craft a “NT Wright Meets Mos Def backed by the LA Phil” moment and they aren’t even CLOSE to being ready for it. Nothing we present is exists in some objective, abstract space (which is where I tend to create it). It exists here. Now. With these people. Who are these people? What are their motivations in this scene? Church itself is a genre that existed long before I ever got to it.
All this is strangely embarrassing to me because I consider myself adept at this ‘creative professional’ game.. and here I am re-learning a very basic concept.
Soundcrawl, before it’s anything else, needs to be a great night out. Something people tell their friends about.
My articles need to be articles. Help other people either think differently, act differently, or be entertained. Essays should be on this blog.
To build an audience or platform will mean exceeding expectations.
Somewhere in that exceeding of the expectations needs to be at least an acknowledgement of the expectations.
I now see my audience (whomever they may be) as people. And people have stories. Those stories have beginnings, middles and ends. This leads to the following questions, which I now consider as I create:
Who is my audience? What were they doing before this piece? What will they do after this piece? What will they be thinking of during this piece?