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from Mr. Steinbeck

This quote, of which I was instantly very fond:

I do hate feeling the hot breath down my neck. There are two distinct crafts, writing and writing for someone. The second requires a kind of second sight with which I do not seem to be gifted. In writing you put down an idea or a story and then see whether anyone likes it, but in writing for someone you must first, during and after, keep an invisible editor sitting on the typewriter shaking an admonitory finger in your face.

John Steinbeck (1952; from Steinbeck: A Life in Letters, eds. Elaine Steinbeck and Robert Wallsten; New York, Viking, 1975).

I could not have ever hoped to have said it better myself.

Comments

( 2 comments — Have your say! )
robyn_ma
Jun. 11th, 2007 01:58 am (UTC)
There's another school of thought, though, that all writers write with an Ideal Audience in mind. Could be a spouse (I think Stephen King considers his wife to be his Ideal Reader); could be oneself or someone like oneself.

In any event, it doesn't seem as though you write with any particular thing in mind, but rather go with wherever The Writing goes — more organic and flowing than plotted-out and set in stone — so I imagine you don't sit down with the thought of pleasing some hypothetical reader, as ideal as s/he might be. Though I do wonder if, after having finished a particular passage, it occurs to you to think, 'So-and-so will like that bit.'
kambriel
Jun. 11th, 2007 04:05 am (UTC)
I have a feeling this could ring true for many artists ~ be they writers, musicians, designers, chefs... Luckily, even if the foundation of what we do comes from deep within ourselves, there is much to the common bond which links so many of us that without even trying to, you will be speaking outwards even as you are speaking within.
( 2 comments — Have your say! )