Voice, Audience & Eavesdropping

Writing about blogging is generally uninteresting and, although I’ve done much of it in the past, I now dismiss thoughts of writing something on the subject as so much navel-gazing and tedium. But my post count hasn’t advanced for a couple of days, making it time to push something, anything, out.

A problem I’m facing as I’m restarting this blog is finding my voice, or more accurately, struggling to define my audience. In the early days, my main audience was church friends. That made things simple: I was talking to people I already knew. Later, as blogging exploded, I interacted with people in the Emerging Church conversation, on both my and others’ blogs.

My interest in the Emerging Church waned as I discovered that its “newness” wasn’t all that new and as I turned to more diverse and nuanced sources for faith & theology. I undertook a Liberal Arts degree, meaning that most of my writing was being done in a more formal, offline context. The blog became a refuge of informality; a place to personally reflect on my learning journey and post silly things.

And then I was done school, with an Honours degree in the Humanities and the absurd notion of becoming a professional web designer with no portfolio, experience, or connections. Surprisingly–and slowly–I succeeded, and this blog, and its audience, withered.

And figuring out this blog’s audience is the point of writing this. I want to know who I’m writing for, and I see that I’ve had a shifting audience all along. First friends, then EC people, then some mixture of myself and all of the above. Now throw in the possibility of some people in the web design/development community, and I have a hodgepodge of I-don’t-know-who-I’m-talking-to.

The solution, dear reader, is obvious. I shouldn’t give a shit about you. This site is for me. It has an audience of one.[ref]Understanding this tempts me to uninstall my Google Analytics stats.[/ref] I’m going to write things that I want to read and, if there happens to be other people who also enjoy eavesdropping on me, great. It’s not that I don’t want people to read what I write–any writer who tells you otherwise is a liar–but I don’t want to get paralyzed by figuring out who my audience is so that I can write things that they’ll like will make them like me.

As a small sign of this, I’ve decided that I’m going to consciously try to stop using the noun blog and the verb blogging in describing this site. This may seem a bit precious, but I’m not writing this for you. I’m writing this for the type of people who, like me, prefer existing nouns like journal or website and verbs such as writing to describe what happens on a website like this. I’m writing this for the types of people who, like me, associate blogging with first drafts hastily published.[ref]I’m not denigrating blogging, which is great, but I don’t publish first drafts any more on this site.[/ref]

I’m also writing as a person who does a crappy job of being a disciple of Jesus but who nevertheless sees everything in life through the lens of that faith. Don’t like it? I don’t always either, but if I’m not writing on topics of faith & theology regularly, I’m not writing for myself. I’d be writing to not offend, which produces only tedious prose.

The big upshot of all of this is that I have a standby comeback when my wife says “nobody will know (or care about) what you’re talking about.”

2 responses to “Voice, Audience & Eavesdropping”

  1. Hi Matt, I haven’t even looked at a blog in what seems like years. I had a slow moment at work and was reviewing my favourites and came across your previous blog which was linked to this one. I find your ideas interesting. So to be honest my curiousity got the better of me and I read a few of your posts. When I came across this post I was a bit surprised no one else responded. I’ve been managing, however poorly, a website for our family band, Loud As Rock. I’ve noticed a lot of hits but also wonder who are the people who are viewing the site. So to be fair I thought I’ll let you know that I stopped by, old church friend. I too would like to know who those people are who peruse my web site. So please forgive me if I missed the point of this post but I thought I should respond, because it felt like you were asking me to. Best wishes to you and yours.

  2. Thanks for stopping by Marcel, great to hear from you! I wasn’t asking for anyone to comment, but I’m glad you did. :)

WordPress Default is proudly powered by WordPress

Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS).