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The Audience Question

My dear Planksters,


How are you doing?


Over the last few days I have been pondering on a comment that I read in Tuula Karjalainen’s ‘Tove Jansson, Work and Love’ – a most excellent biography of the incredibly talented Tove Jannson, artist and author, best known for her creation; ‘The Moomins’.

I’m currently only halfway through the book and will devote a blog to it when I’ve finished, but in chapter four, Tuula Karjalainen mentions that Tove was often asked the question ‘Whom do you write for?’ Tuula reports;


“…She replied that in the first instance she wrote more for herself than for children. ‘But if my stories are addressed to any particular kind of reader, then it’s probably a Miffle. I mean those who have trouble fitting in anywhere, those who are on the outside, on the margins […], the fish out of water. The good-for-nothing one has managed to escape from or conceal’.

This caused me to reflect on the question, when you create, be that writing, art, pottery, knitting whatever, who is your intended audience -is it first and foremost for yourself - or maybe your younger self? And how does your intended audience influence your work?


Do you think about the recipients of your creations in the planning stage (if you have a planning stage) or do you only become mindful of them once you start to create? Do you ever edit and change your work at the end when pondering your audience? And what about censoring? – Ever hold back from depicting something because of who might view your work?

When writing, (both ‘published’ and ‘not yet’ writers) how much are you considering what the publishers/agents/current market is looking for? Or do you just remove all shackles during the writing process and allow your uninhibited originality to flow?


(Even as I’m writing this, I’m conscious of you, Planksters – being careful to be general enough so as not to alienate, checking that my recorded ideas are not too ‘out-there' and, that my phrases are palatable…!)


I’ve heard hundreds of artists and writers advise ‘Just be yourself – create work that you enjoy’ – how much would your work change if you followed that advice? Or maybe, like Tove, you’re already living in that hallowed reality!


According to Tuula, Tove’s Moomin books were frowned on initially in Finland;


“The Moomins’ language, their drinking of palm wine and smoking of tobacco gave offence. What’s more, the Moomins often said rude things and even swore at times.”

Apparently, Tove was clear that she wrote:

“…in order to amuse – but not to educate.”

I for one, am very glad that Tove didn’t hold back (or maybe she did!!) and that her publisher, Söderström & Co, was open to writing that was brilliant and original, sharing with the world something that was wonderful and enduring and that we Miffles can relate to.


I’d love to hear your candid thoughts, Planksters. When creating, are you reined in or unrestricted, or, have you managed to carve out a workspace in that finely balanced (and probably more marketable) middle ground?


Sincerely, and with a long glassy stare,


Thalamus Plank


(Incidentally, my ‘sign-offs’ are uninhibited…)



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6 commenti


Vee Morgan
Vee Morgan
21 ago 2022

It’s quite a conundrum isn’t it! There are so many ifs and buts: need for income, versus personal freedom of expression, do your ideas click with those of the paying public? I can only speak as an artist and designer, but personally, I tend to please myself, unless it is a commission. In that case, I look upon it as an interesting challenge to please the person who has engaged me, without compromising my own artistic expression. I’ve been fortunate in that occasionally, my work has appealed to others, but it wouldn’t keep a roof over my head.


I love The Moomins, and still have occasional nightmares inspired by A Comet in Moominland 😆

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thalamusplank
thalamusplank
21 ago 2022
Risposta a

The Moomins are unbelievably brilliant! I yearn to be like Snufkin, but my reality is probably more that of the Hemulen!! - Maybe a 'Snufkulen' or a 'Hemkin'! 😉 Yes, A Comet in Moominland really is scary - and actually very current for the times we are living in!


I think I have to agree with you that pleasing yourself is the best way forward when possible. It will guarantee more creativity and originality. I like the idea of looking at commissions as a challenge, and yes, being true to your artistic expression is like oxygen - without it, art dies!!


Hope to have you on here soon as a guest blogger where you can share some of your wonderful…

Mi piace

Just getting to this now. Fab as always. I think it depends what I'm writing. If I'm writing for children then I would say I'm uninhibited with a view to what is marketable, whilst writing what I like within that frame. Knowing what is marketable to parents, regardless of what "the industry" says and going for it might be considered stupid, but I know what we need man! If I'm writing for adults I'm always aware that some of what I write comes from my experience and sometimes this holds me back for fear that people may see themselves in my writing. However, I am getting better at not caring about that. Everything I've had "published" so far is unfettered and the…

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thalamusplank
thalamusplank
21 ago 2022
Risposta a

Thank you for your comment! - No idea how I missed this one!! 😜


That's really interesting that you feel that more about your writing for adults and even more interesting that all the work you have produced that has ben published is the stuff you don't hold back on!! Think that must be saying something!!


You're right, it's getting over caring about what others think - something I'm getting much at with age!! Life is too short and variety is what makes it consistently interesting!! 🤗

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Alex Price
Alex Price
25 lug 2022

This is a good question. I know as a teacher we're always asking the children about intended audience, but I don't know how much I consciously consider it myself. I'd like my writing to be for anyone, but I know that isn't true. I suppose I write for someone like me, or someone who thinks like me. I was recently chatting to the poet Matt Goodfellow and he is very confident in his own voice as a writer and writes what he wants to write, regardless of general expectation.

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thalamusplank
thalamusplank
25 lug 2022
Risposta a

That's really interesting that you don't consider it when writing (or at least, as you say, 'consciously' do so) That's probably a good place to be as you create. I love the idea of writing what you want as whilst some of it might be a bit odd, it would truly produce some original pieces and not just 'original pieces that have to fit into established structures and boxes'! 😀

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