Audience

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"If I am powerful, I am powerful not because stars speak to me,
but because I emphatically speak to stars."

Eventually, someone will ask the question wondering after your audience. Who do you think can hear you from where you stand? Whom do you intend to hear you? To whom do you imagine yourself speaking when you open your big yap? These are terrific questions and not simply because they border on the fundamentally unanswerable, the only questions really worthy of human consideration. For me, I never find a snappy answer to any of them, perhaps because of a little understood yet fundamental law of human communication. The most powerful messages come from those one never suspects capable of delivering powerful messages. We could call this The Bushwhack Principle. We easily filter out familiar sources, somehow second-guessing what they're gonna say and hearing what we anticipated rather than what was passed. How insightful could those messages likely be?

The Earth sits, from our perspective, in the middle of an apparently infinite number of light points surrounding us. Some rather close by, but most, millions of miles away. Let's say that those stars and pulsars and such represent our audience.
Some of us wish upon those distant stars, and sometimes those wishes even come true, but not because those distant stars heard our pleading. Yet some connection sometimes seemed to have been made, judging by the results. I believe that a connection is made every time a wish gets posed, but perhaps not the connection I imagine being made. I figure that for me, some deeper connection between me and my wish unfolds in the instant that I pose it into the great out there. Doesn't matter who hears my cry, but that I cry; explicitly, out loud, though even whispering works.

I have no idea how this facility works, but I believe it works anyway. I have no hard evidence, just my own sporadically satisfied experience which might not be replicable for anyone else. This phenomenon isn't science, but meta-science, I suppose, one of those experiences which seems to know more than I could ever prove. Writing's like this for me. I imagine a broad audience reading my prose, though I suspect that it's only a few, some dedicated fans and others accidentally exposed. Most of the most appreciative feedback I receive comes from The Muse, who, I suppose, has a vested interest in finding my stuff satisfying. The alternative might insist that she consider me a deluded mate, one requiring her to placate my delusions in order to maintain our relationship. And this could be the case, though if true, it would have to work both ways.

In today's
media landscape, the old, somewhat reliable conveners have lost their touch. Once upon a time, the fairy tales insist, there were gatekeepers who successfully curated readers' consumption. They'd nurture along promising writers and encourage them to write like this or that, editing rough drafts into finely finished works. This tradition sort of still works these days, with far fewer curators even though the number of active readers seems to have exponentially grown. The writers seem mostly left to their own devices to develop a style and an ear for the language they purvey. They may or may not ever find a publisher and might simply post to a blog or a Medium page, and most of their readers will stumble upon their work, some wondering why they never see books written like that anymore. These stumbled-upon constitute much of the audience for most writers these days. The writing for money or writing for a living models seem outmoded now. Most writers write to write rather than to make money writing. Most readers read without the intention of paying for that privilege.

The universe remains in balance not because Earth manages to maintain lines of two-way communication between itself and those distant stars, but, I suspect, because those of us here on Earth maintain the ability to whisper in the direction of those stars. The stars never successfully anticipate those floods of wishes washing around them, but the wishers gain great benefit for their efforts anyway. If they offered fresh juicy wishes to the stars for some simple subscription price, no acceptances would ever come in. In order to work, wishes must be offered, and with some degree of heart-felt-ness, or they just don't work. We each understand somewhere deep down inside that we whisper into stiff solar wind, but as witness to our own admissions, often our greatest weaknesses and fears, some native capability becomes clearer. Do not tell me that I make my own wishes come true, for I have witnessed distant stars helping me over the hump. Were there no stars, the clouds might reasonably replace their presence.

I have not finely targeted my audience for either my wishes or my writing. I have never once launched a juicy, slightly desperate wish on Alpha Centauri. In business school, I learned about the importance of segmenting a market, of focusing messages, and measuring the results. Since business school, I've learned that the more I segment my market and focus my message, the fewer the results. I thrive upon the beneficence of stumbled-upons and the gratitude of a few dedicated fans. When I write, like when I wish, my primary audience must be me for I'm the only one there to witness the wish or the writing launching into and perhaps beyond present space. If I am powerful, I am powerful not because stars speak to me but because I emphatically speak to stars.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









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