One of the questions I find difficult to answer is the one about whether we have a reader in mind when we write. I know I go on about the characters being free to do what they like but that’s the way it feels. So, in a way, when I’m recording their activities and dialogue, I’m being the reader (sort of). OK, in the end, it’s the writer-me who’s changing things around, editing sentences and segments to get the rhythms ‘right’, but the characters take precedence over almost everything else.
The reason I bring this up, however, is that in the course of answering an email from Jean way back it struck me that once you’ve blogged a few times and got a few comments you’re aware of your potential (and actual) readers. Which means that the character you’re watching/creating/recording is you and you can begin to anticipate what sort of responses he/it might provoke in the ‘audience’.
Character-Me (CM): OK, smartass, prove it.
Writer- Me (WM): What?
CM: Make me do and say things for the Murderous Musings readers.
WM: It’s not that blatant. It’s more subtle.
WM: Anyway, if I tried that, I’d be bound to offend someone.
CM: Oh, and we can’t have that, can we? Better to stay all bland and cowardly and non-controversial. You’re pathetic. Real writers upset people all the time.
WM: Well, I can do that in books and stories. No need for it here.
CM: Why not?
WM: Because when you start blogging you make … well, sort of friends.
CM: See? You’re a coward.
CM: That false hesitation there – the ‘well, sort of’ bit. Why be so … apologetic about it? Why not just say friends? Why not commit? You’re afraid you’ll have to send them Christmas cards, aren’t you?
WM: No, I’m not. It’s … oh, you wouldn’t understand.
CM: Huh, I can read you like a book.
WM: Oh yeah?
CM: Yeah. Your pathetic habit of chucking in big words now and then and pretending to be clever.
WM: That’s not true.
CM: It is. You’re just covering your backside all the time. So busy not offending people you’re actually licking their…
WM: No I’m not.
CM: Course you are.
WM: You know, you’re one of the nastiest characters I’ve written for ages.
CM: (Sardonic grin.) Huh, you just don’t like the truth. You want them all to think you’re a young, vibrant…
WM: No I don’t. I’ve told them I’m a granddad. Even used a shot of my grandson to illustrate this.
CM: Yeah, why? For the sympathy vote. You just hope they’ll say ‘Poor old bugger’ and let you get away with stuff.
WM: You know what? You’re just spiteful, one of those guys who need to undermine others because of your own inadequacy.
CM: Hmmm. Interesting. You realise I’m you, don’t you?
WM: Er … well, yes. But…
CM: Better keep quiet about the inadequacies then, eh? Better change the subject. Do one of those wandering off at a tangent things to convince visitors the British have got a quirky way of thinking. Image, image, image – that’s all you care about.
WM: If that was true, I’d hardly have messed it up by letting them see you, would I?
CM: Who knows? You’re the writer. You’re the one responsible for this abstruse, rambling garbage.
WM: Hmmm, thanks. ‘Abstruse’ – nice. That should impress a few…
CM: Oh no, I’m not doing your obfuscation for you. Hey, stop it.
CM: Making me say stuff like ‘obfuscation’. Next you’ll have me questioning whether Schoenberg’s atonal music really was degenerate art. Damn.
WM: Right, instead of the hyper-criticism, what I’d really like you to do for me now is an exegetical analysis of Joyce’s Ulysses, or perhaps a quick ‘Existentialism for Beginners’.
I’m sorry to say that, at that point, Character-Me clapped his hand over his mouth and refused to continue. See? The writer always gets his/her way.