Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A Reader In Mind-Edith Wharton's "other self"

I read Edith Wharton's The Writing of Fiction last week and spent a lot of time underlining.

Here's something she says in the intro chapter that seemed to me to relate to the issue of writing with a particular reader in mind, which is a question I've explored in other posts.

There is no doubt that in this day of general 'speeding up,' the 'inspirational' theory is seductive even to those who care nothing for easy triumphs. No writer--especially at the beginning of his career--can help being influenced by the quality of the audience that awaits him; and the young novelist may ask of what use are experience and meditation, when his readers are so incapable of giving him either. The answer is tht he will never do his best till he ceases altogether to think of his readers (and his editor and his publisher) and begins to write, not for himself, but for that other self with whom the creative artist is always in mysterious correspondenc,e and who, happily, has an objective existence somewhere, and will some day receive the message sent to him, though the sender may never know it.

No comments: