Friday, October 14, 2011
As writers, we think about audience, especially if we're kidlit writers. To me, a YA audience seems complicated: does one F bomb make a book inappropriate for 12-year-olds? What about two? Is a trans guy appropriate for 13-year-olds? The answer, of course, depends on the audience members. One dad might be OK with his 12-year-old reading an F bomb. One mom might not be. A writer can't worry about that stuff, at least not right away. It is life-threatening to your story.
How this picture relates: I have wanted purple hair for a long time--a LONG time--and now I have some, and I love it. Kid likes it, husband is neutral. Friends? Nobody will care. The question is my work audience. My boss's boss will assume I'm a bad influence (he already does), my boss won't care, and my students will laugh or make fun of me. Any/all of that is fine. It's my hair and I like it (it's slightly Rainbow Brite, for those of you who remember her, but that's OK). Don't trust my abilities anymore because of my hair? Your loss.
If you grew up in a house like mine, audience awareness was key--you learned it before you learn to read, because the grown-ups were unpredictable and you had to be on guard. As a grown-up, that ability to read the room is very useful, but it's also dangerous when there's no threat. Being on guard all the time is harmful.
Same with writing. If I'm thinking audience all the time, my book becomes someone else's book, because I'm writing for their expectations. I don't want that. If I write the book I love, an F bomb in the wrong place won't jinx things. And if it does, that person isn't my audience. I'll find my peeps somewhere.
Same with purple hair.