Welcome to a few new subscribers and readers! While it is certainly gratifying to note the increase in subscriptions and readers over the last couple of days, there is a part of me that is hoping this is not a trend.
Why? Why don’t I want more readers? Friends and fellow bloggers who have skyped with me know that one of my biggest complaints is the number of readers I have. I envy niblettes, though he will soon have my problem too, I think. I was his first subscriber on Bloglines, 8 months ago, today he has 18.
The advantage of not having any readers is that it frees you up to write for the ‘mythical reader’ or in technical jargon, the user persona. Recent Nobel Laureate for Literature, Orhan Pamuk, writes in a lovely opinion column for the International Herald Tribune, the answer to the question "Who do you write for?"
I’m sad to say that I must hang my head in shame and confess that I too, prefer writing for the mythical reader of my mind’s eye than any real person. For then, I would have stage fright and would not know what to say, becoming overly self conscious in my articulation of thoughts or concepts. The perceived anonymity of writing on the interweb is a liberating experience. Orhan Pamuk is user centered as his answer shows.
From Pamuk’s article,
There is a parallel suspicion in the West, where many readers believe
that local literatures should remain local, pure and true to their
national roots: Their secret fear is that a writer who addresses an
international readership and draws from traditions outside his own
culture will lose his authenticity.
Behind this fear is a reader who longs to enter a foreign country that
has severed its ties with the world, and to listen in while it argues
with itself – much as one might overhear a family argument next door.
If a writer is addressing an audience that includes readers living
other cultures and speaking other languages, then this fantasy dies,
It is because all writers have a deep desire to be authentic that even
after all these years I still love to be asked for whom I write. But
while a writer’s authenticity does depend on his ability to open his
heart to the world in which he lives, it depends just as much on his
ability to understand his own changing position in that world.
There is no such thing as an ideal reader, free of narrow-mindedness
and unencumbered by social prohibitions or national myths, just as
there is no such thing as an ideal novelist. But a novelist’s search
for the ideal reader – be he national or international – begins with
the novelist’s imagining him into being, and then by writing books with
him in mind.
ps. update: just found out niblettes has more subscribers than I, yay! I win!