The Audience?

by cheri sabraw

Should my blog be instructional? Entertaining? Philosophic? Revealing? Biographical?

Over the past seven years, I have tried to do it all. Surely, some of my loyal readers want to learn, others want to laugh, some want to wrestle with life’s deepest questions, voyeurs want to look through my windows, and the curious (or the bored) want to know about my life–what animates, bothers, excites me.

At this point in my writing career, I often wonder–with the overflow of writing from all ends of the earth–much of it predictable,  depending from which source it flows–I wonder what most regular people want to read. I realize the italicized  regular will bother some of you out there. My father used to call just salt of the earth people–regular. You know…you say hello and he says, hello.

I now observe men and women reading  what we used to call light reading–magazines, newspapers, romance novels, or  self-help books. Granted, what one reads on her iPad is now protected from wandering eyes by the sleek black screen, framing words that we have downloaded instead of checked-out from the library, but I haven’t observed anyone reading Angle of Repose lately. I did ride on a Southwest Airlines flight Tuesday in which the woman across the aisle was slogging through Donna Tartt’s latest miserable tome The Goldfinch <yawn> <meh!>.

So maybe instead of fluff or sex or horror, people are reading some of the seminal texts of the past on their iPads?

Would reading such texts make our culture better? (yes)

Would burning People Magazine, Men’s Health, or Cosmopolitan change anything?

Is what we read indicative of who we are? (yes)

Should I write about the aging process, women’s fantasies, the benefits of eating arguably the most unsavory green in the produce aisle–kale?

Should I tell you stories of yore, write social commentary, rhapsodize about art, music, and food?

Maybe I should describe the joy I felt today upon seeing my first baby quail?

Or maybe I should add that immediately after seeing this little puff of feathers, sandwiched in between its monogamous mother and father, running across the desert rock  in harmonious syncopation , I worried that the other babies had been eaten. After all, quail usually lay more than one egg.

Perhaps I should write about The Plague by Albert Camus–the book I am reading for a May class. About buboes, fever, quarantine, and fleas? And what is Camus’ point?

Do you read me?




About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
This entry was posted in Education, Life, My childhood, My fiction, On fiction, Parenting, People and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to The Audience?

  1. Cyberquill says:

    It’s not what you write about. It’s how you turn a phrase. That said, I’d like to read a little more about baking and needlepoint.

  2. Cheri says:

    Thank you for your comment. I do appreciate it.
    And what about you?

    • Cyberquill says:

      What about me in what respect? I already told you what I’d like to read more of.

      • Cheri says:

        What are you doing these days? Are you doing much reading? Do you have a job? Writing more music?

        • Cyberquill says:

          I miss living in New York, is what I’m doing.

          • Cheri says:

            Sorry. You can come back someday, I hope for you.

            • Cyberquill says:

              Thanks. As to your other questions, I’ve been taking voice lessons of late, and I sort of fell into replacing the singer in a local rock band. A few gigs are scheduled in the near future, where I’ll be paid a percentage of the cover charge. Chump change, but at least I can now say I have a job. And I’m not writing any more music, as I’m hopelessly backed up as far as writing lyrics. The last thing I need is more music. I’m already feeling greatly stressed out by the fact that I have dozens of original tunes without words, and whenever I want to write some (words), my mind just goes blank. I may need to go see a psychoanalyst for that (among other issues, like dealing with living “at home” again).

              • Cheri says:

                I would imagine living at home would present some challenges after living in New York City. As far as having many musical compositions without lyrics, maybe that could be a way to find a partner…advertise for a librettist.

  3. Cheri says:

    One more thing: I do not bake or do needlepoint but I do cook and knit. My latest obsession (one that I can write about) is watching desert birds. Just writing that makes me feel old.

  4. I find this post somewhat troubling. Just write what is in your heart. One word after another. You are too young to feel old. I would love to read about your thoughts regarding desert birds or anything else.

  5. Cheri says:

    There’s a lot going on in this entry! Social commentary, biography, philosophy, and not the least, entertainment. Perhaps I have been blogging for so long that the medium is beginning to tire for me. Not sure about that.
    I am not comfortable writing from my heart here on the internet anymore, especially with my husband still actively working. Too many snoops and voyeurs. I value my privacy more here than I used to do back six years ago. I suppose, perhaps, that is why a number of people followed this blog: to know what was going on in our lives.

    Since my real name is on this blog, I am more protective of what I write that, say, if I was anonymous, but I could never be anonymous in my writing. I need more direct authenticity.

    Just a flow of thoughts and words today!
    Hope you are doing well there in beautiful Northern California.

  6. Richard says:

    What is the matter with my blog?
    It doesn’t move the way it used to do.
    No ghost or spirit rises from the words.
    Er …..

    Let’s try again, along I jog.
    Something to say and not to rue?
    Miss Muffet’s whey and curds?
    Um ….

    Now everything is just a slog.
    Ideas are stale, all old, none new.
    And visits down my halves and thirds.
    Um ….

    A picture of a fireside log?
    … In this heady summer stew?
    If not a log, then what of surds?
    Er …. S… Er ….ds?

    My daily grind? They’re all agog!
    Might that, by chance, attract a few?
    They’ll come along in droves and herds!
    Really ……….. ?

    No! Not really! London Smog?
    My writing now is all askew,
    Attracting only geeks and nerds.
    Ugh …..

    I’m in the shallows. In a fog.
    Never do the thoughts now spew
    Or register as sleek as leopards.
    …….. Leopards?!!

    Oh how flat! Deep? No – in a bog!
    Alright! I see! I take the cue
    And exit …….
    Backwards ….. Forwards ….

  7. Brighid says:

    Come here to read you because I like your style, you never make fun of old people, you have interesting tales, and most times between you and your comments I learn something. I don’t have an i pad, but I keep my Kindle on “low ready”, and I recently re re read Angle of Repose! Does that mean I’m well aged, with a hint of leather and oak?

    • Richard says:

      Well said, Brighid. I owe Cheri a similar debt of gratitude. Her work is enlightening, powerful, kind and instructive. Her sources of inspiration are limitless and I never cease to marvel at the novelty of her subject-matter and the way she she gives expression to her experiences.

      Never does she treat her guests cruelly and she always finds something worthy to say about the most inane comments. Her ability to feel for others is exceptional.

      If Cheri ceased to write for us, the world would be a poorer place.

    • Cheri says:

      You are well aged to perfection, with a hint of insight–a fine blend and BOY am I proud of you for reading this novel. Now…the Spectator Bird…by Stegner. I read my Kindle books on my IPad with the Kindle app. Works very well.

      And why would I make fun of old people? I love old people…unless they become the extremely cranky ones…

      Thank you for these words. I read your blog for your expression and topic and authenticity. It is not predictable, that’s for sure.

  8. Christopher says:

    For me, this is one of your more interesting pieces because it’s more introspective than usual. Your asking yourself if what you write is interesting enough for your readers, is interesting in itself.

    Since most blogs have a life of about two years, the seven years and counting of this, your blog, is somewhat singular. Since you still have your little coterie of readers, you’ve no need to change what you write about, which is what grabs you. Most of the time what grabs you grabs us, your readers, too. If you don’t write about what grabs you, your writing would lose its colour, and it would no longer grab us.

    That said, am I right to think that music is something you’ve rarely written about, if at all? Is it because music doesn’t grab you? If it does grab you, I, as a faithful reader, would find of interest a future posting about what music, or songs, grab you, and why, And, which musical artists grab you, and why.

  9. Cheri says:

    This comment is most instructive and insightful. I especially like the first paragraph. Reminds me of Shakespeare’s plays within plays. What is that term? You are correct: I don’t think I have ever written about music. I would be interested if you started a new blog, solely devoted to the songs that grab you and why.

    I’ll think about your suggestion. Thank you, Christopher.

  10. wkkortas says:

    Among the devotees of the sport of kings, there’s an old saying–“horses for courses.” Some horses who are unbeatable at six furlongs will seem to be doing NASA G-force testing for decleration if they try to go longer, and horses that are also-rans on a dry track are junior Secretariats in the mud. I think the aphorism works for writing as well; if you’re writing a technical manual, for example, that’s probably a bad time to go all Finnegan’s Wake with things, because you have a pretty specific purpose and audience that you need to serve. A personal blog is a bit trickier; you want people to read your work, of course, but where is the line where the tail starts wagging the dog, as it were? Speaking for myself, I look to write what I want as well as I can write it, and hope it’s good enough that people are willing to come along for the ride. Certainly, I’ve never been disappointed snooping around these pages.

    • Cheri says:

      Although I have given this type of advice to my students throughout the years, I haven’t taken it myself as of recently, have I? I love your analogy to the Sport of Kings. It resonates. You know I am a big racing aficionado…I know I’ve written about that love throughout the years because I remember one of my readers, Paul, and his advice that I not become a gambler. I had to confess that my Great-Uncle Mike was a bookie…

      Thank you, wk

      • wkkortas says:

        What was it that Mickey Rooney said about losing five dollars his first time at the track and spending a million dollars trying to get it back? While the scale is different, my sentiments are the same. Hell, there are nags I’ve bet on at Saratoga that are still running.

  11. Christopher says:

    About the seminal texts of the past, you said: “……..Would reading such texts make our culture better?………”

    Are you implying that the average man of today doesn’t read such texts to the extent that the average man of the past did? If so, are you implying also that, for lack of reading these seminal texts, the average man of today is consequently more ignorant insular philistine and boorish than was his father grandfather or great-grandfather?

    Looking back to when I was very young, I don’t recall that the average man then was any less ignorant insular philistine and boorish than is the average man today. And the average man of tomorrow will, I put it to you, be no less ignorant insular philistine and boorish than is the average man today.

    Given that today’s average man has a computer in his home that is hooked to the internet – so that he has in effect a vast reference library in his home – it might be thought that he would have transformed into a veritable homme de la Renaissance. That he hasn’t is mute testimony that men who are innately curious are but a tiny minority of men everywhere, and, I suggest, have always been.

    You may lead an average man to a rose garden, but you can’t make him pluck a rose……….

  12. Cheri says:

    Surely an average man does not use the adjectives ignorant, insular, Philistine, and boorish!! 🙂
    I am saying that the average man of today reads less (and less quality) than the average man of the past. The average man of the future will read even less as his entertainment opportunities multiply on his computer screen. If only the average man of today were using his computer for research instead of for….well…for ….well….

    Your comment was more interesting than my silly blog post!

    • Christopher says:

      “……..Surely an average man does not use the adjectives ignorant, insular, Philistine, and boorish……..”

      Did I say I am an average man?!!!

      “……I am saying that the average man of today reads less (and less quality) than the average man of the past……..”

      You just could be right. Many are the studies that show that the range of vocabulary on TV newscasts has been diminishing steadily over the last 60 or so years. This does suggest that today’s men read less stuff of mind-challenging quality, or of literary quality, since the more one reads, the greater is one’s everyday vocabulary.

      What is undeniable is that most readers of imaginative literature (novels) – except science fiction – are women, probably by a huge margin. I think this has always been so.

  13. shoreacres says:

    If I may say so, it’s possible the first thing you should do is get rid of all those “shoulds” up there in your post. Of course, that’s only an expression of my own convictions about this writing business, and the approach I’ve taken since my first blog post: I will write what I will write, and if there’s someone who’d like to read what I’ve written, I’ll rejoice. If they read more than once — well, that’s gravy, as we say here in the south.

    i’ve been thinking about some of these same issues because I just passed my own seven year anniversary on WordPress, and I don’t feel any particular itch: at least, not an itch that would require the end of the blog. Some thing haven’t changed in seven years, like my theme. Other changes have come, like an end to anonymity. I’ve always said that i prefer being personal in my writing, rather than confessional, but there are some slightly more personal posts I haven’t written that I’d like to tackle in the next year. Grandma taking on the Klan comes to mind.

    One of my touchstones has been Georgia O’keeffe’s statement: “Where I was born and where and how I have lived is unimportant… It is what I have done with where I have been that should be of interest.”

    A statement like that implies thought and reflection, and that’s what appeals to me about your blog. Clearly, whatever the subject at hand, you’ve given it some thought, and have a point of view. I love that.

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