Well, there are actually two audiences. The audience who will read our work–as readers; and those we hope will offer a contract for it—agents and/or editors (who, of course, consider the readers).
The agent/editor audience I write for is stuffed. Literally.
It includes Little Bear, and Big Woolly, and Koalie, and Polar Princess, and the nameless one with the yellow hat. There’s Duckie and Dog and Griz.
When I’m stuck writing, beating my head against the desk and cursing that I didn’t choose a different creative outlet, such as bonsai growing, my stuffed agent/editor audience helps. I address them like I would a team of coworkers and managers. As if I were in a meeting: proposing a plan of action, arguing my plot, brainstorming, soliciting advice.
Sounds corny, but it works. Staring into the beady eyes of stuffed animals does a lot to bolster confidence. They’re tough—very tough–but also cuddly. They’re hard to maintain eye contact with, but soft and forgiving. They unnerve me. They demand the best in me. So I work hard to deliver.
If I can’t convince Little Bear or Duckie or Griz that my plot is engaging and the characters have enough motivation and conflict to drive the story, how on earth can I convince someone with a pulse?
Today, my audience is virtual and I guess you could say we work remotely. I donated my menagerie to charity when I moved west (all except Little Bear)—figuring it was selfish to keep them on the payroll when they could be enjoying life snuggling with a child. So my communication is directed at a photo. One I took of my plush colleagues lined up on the sofa before I deposited them in a basket at the door of Goodwill.
I’m grateful for my stuffed audience. They help me keep things in perspective and are amazingly good listeners. And when I receive a rejection in the mail—it hurts, no lie—I can look at their photo and get all sorts of virtual warm-fuzzy condolence hugs. I can feel the fur.
Do you have a symbolic audience you write to? A pet, stuffed animal, or other totem?