ACW

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Saturday, 25 April 2015

An Audience of One by Fiona Lloyd


I’m starting to feel old. Our eldest got married last year. Married! It feels like only five minutes since we brought him home from the hospital, wondering if we were up to job of caring for this tiny scrap of humanity with the lung capacity of a budding opera star.

I’m surprised our postman didn’t go off sick with a bad back. For the next couple of weeks we were inundated with cards and presents: cute little outfits (mostly in varying shades of blue), teddy bears twice the size of our son, rattles designed more with the fist of a sturdy two-year-old in mind.

Along with the piles of welcome goodies came reams of advice, some of it not so welcome. Make sure you put him down on his back / front. Establish a four-hourly feeding routine / let him feed on demand. Put him on the potty from day one (really?) or let him do things at his own pace.

There’s lots of advice on offer when it comes to my writing, too. One of the things I’ve appreciated about being part of the Association of Christian Writers is the number of people who are willing to support and encourage me – as well as give constructive criticism – as I seek to hone my skills. So I’d like to thank…oh no, that’s my Oscars speech.

What I’ve noticed, however, is that not all writers take the same approach. Some have an idea in their head and simply run with it. Others – more methodical – seek to identify a gap in the market and then tailor their work accordingly. A recent article I came across suggested that writers tend to be planners or pantsers (and that sometimes it’s helpful to switch from our normal way of doing things).

Reflecting on this has caused me to take a step back and consider. Do I prefer a planned or spontaneous approach? Who am I really writing for…and how can I ensure it reaches them? How can I make sure my manuscript is the best it possibly can be? Have I checked it for speeling misstakes and grammatical, errors?

All of these are important questions, and how I respond will influence the progression and impact of my writing. But for me, there’s something more fundamental: Am I writing to glorify God? This is not about building a readership, targeting a particular publisher, or even writing a piece for the church magazine. It’s about me and God. It’s about seeking to honour him in the way I live. And so every word that I commit to paper (or screen) should first of all be written for an audience of One.

Fiona Lloyd works part-time as a music teacher, and serves on the worship leading team at her local church. She enjoys writing short stories, and is working on her first novel. Fiona self-published a violin tutor book in 2013, and blogs at www.fjlloyd.wordpress.com. She is married with three children. Fiona is ACW's membership secretary.

10 comments:

  1. I missed the "speeling misstakes" the first time through! A good reminder, Fiona, It is easy to get carried away and lose the plot.

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    1. Thanks, Sue - I need to remind myself to stop and think once in a while.

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  2. It's a good analogy - comparing the advice new mums get to the advice writers get. There's so much of it. I suppose that tells us one thing for sure. There's no one way of doing it! I'm not sure whether I find that reassuring or even more scary. Great post - I laughed at the curtailed Oscar's speech and the speeling misstakes!

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    1. I find it very confusing sometimes - just when I think I'm starting to get the hang of this writing business, someone tells me I should be doing it completely differently.

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  3. Great analogy Fiona, thanks!. You are right, there is a lot of advice out there (and I am only adding to it with my own blog for ACW, and my podcast for writer's - The Creative Writer's Toolbelt - sorry!)

    But... this makes me think a couple of things. First, the reason there's a lot of advice out there is because there's a lot of advice to give! If you start to look at all the stuff you can talk about with wirting - around structure and planning, charaterisation, PoV, style, voice, dialogue, etc. etc. if you tried to take it all in in one go, you'd end up with steam coming out of your ears. But if you take it in small regular doses it starts to come together over time.

    Second, when you pick up your baby and just love him/her, or just embrace someone you love, you discover the opposite to all this complexity is also present, that it's all very simple, you can simply love the person. Maybe it's like that with God, and with God and writing. Us Christian writers try to absorb all the advice and all the complicated stuff, and at the same time we are just asking "what does He want me to write?" which I think is a bit like your point about wanting to glorify God. It's simple and complex, and wonderful - maybe like seeing your oldest get married!

    Andy

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    1. Thanks, Andy - I think my problem is that I'm so eager to take on as much advice as I can that I get overwhelmed. That's why it helps me to take a step back sometimes...but then I know I need to go back and look at all the other stuff you mentioned.

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  4. Great post, Fiona. As with child rearing, writing is about finding the path that works best for you and your projects.

    When I was younger, I was always a pantser. When I wrote my novel, I had to become a planner because the publisher required a detailed chapter breakdown. Now I like to mix and match the two styles - have a rough idea of where the story's going, but with the flexibility to change as it unfolds.

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    1. Thanks, Adrianne - I think by nature I'd prefer to be a planner, but when I've gone for the pantser approach I've found it more helpful than I expected.

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  5. Thanks for this Fiona, loved the 'speeling misstakes' bit! But what I really valued was the importance of writing first and foremost for our audience of One. So long as we please Him, that's all that really matters. Thanks for the reminder xx

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    1. Thanks, Mandy - I think I need to remember this when I feel like I'm not getting anywhere.

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