I collected quotes for Women’s History Month looking mostly for women writers I admire, I trust for their quality, and the quotes I offer are not “overdone” – seen constantly and shared constantly and overdone.
This quote from Adrienne Rich was chosen, graphic was made but I didn’t give myself space to listen to it or allow it to get close to me until it was time to add it into a post. It was then its power slayed me.
One of the first things I learned as a writer seeking publication was to write with my audience in mind.
In the writing workshops I facilitate I sometimes lead a visualization where the participants imagine a stadium filled with readers of their future book. In our mind’s eye, we drop into the stadium and float around watching the faces of the readers as each person reads the works-in-progress which in our imagination has now become a thoroughly enjoyed book.
It is a sort of holy silence in the stadium, eyes steadily scanning the pages at slightly different points in the story since we all read at a different pace.
I never took that exercise into where people might actually be reading our books, except for me with “Dear Autism Mom” I imagined a mom at the park, holding onto the book and reading it as she sits on a bench and her children play independently.
Perhaps this is because I remember being a younger mom, reading books while my children played, enjoying the respite except for when the needed my help to get momentum going on the swings.
In “Dedication” by Adrienne Rich, we are greeted, each person who reads her words, in a line of the poem. She speaks to the reader directly – and for me, the line “I know you are reading this in a room where too much has happened for you to bear,” reached out and pulled me close. It was like looking at myself, nose to nose, only it wasn’t me. This meant someone else was listening.
Someone else was listening to me and recognizing what I was saying as sacred.
Someone else was understanding me, someone felt compassion for what I was going through.
When we do our jobs as writers, our readers feel as if they are not alone. They sense they are a part of something bigger than themselves. They expand to become a part of the world you created with them, in a collaborative process from writer to reader and back again.
Take a moment to read “Dedication” by Adrienne Rich. In the link there is a recording available as well as the written poem.
Note the intricate, individualized awareness Rich has toward her readers.
Now it is your turn.
Write a list of qualities of your reader.
Bring them to life through description, description that uses multiple senses and where possible, use a setting as well. Take five minutes and write a short essay, story or poem in which you “break the fourth wall” and speak directly to the reader you describe thoroughly.
This post is a part of the Women’s History Month Writing Quotes & Prompts series from Julie JordanScott, the Creative Life Midwife, and her Word-Love Writing Community you may join for free on Facebook. During March, there will be daily discussions on the quotes and prompts we present here, too. Join the conversation and improve your writing at the same time!