On my first English Writing class in the University, we were asked to present our views on ‘What made something well written.’ What indeed? The 22 other students in the class gave some really compelling arguments. On my turn, my answer was ‘connecting with the audience’. I do not know if the professor liked this response or if at all this was a valid one, but to me, yes Connecting to the audience makes something really well written.
A writer has an arsenal of literacy techniques to capture the audience, but nothing does it better than personalizing the emotions presented in the piece. When the writer writes about the liberty in his writings, the painter identifies it with his brush strokes, when the writer talks about the struggles in his early life the young college graduate identifies it with his struggle to find his dream job, when the writer writes about his awards and achievements, the young Entrepreneur of the year identifies it with the satisfaction of having achieved what he set out to. I have used the word ‘identifies’ redundantly. Some will call it a ‘Literacy blunder’, but it’s actually intentional.
I want to highlight the transition in my writing through some examples. The first such, is set in the 6th grade. It was an English class and we were asked to write an essay on ‘My Life Dreams’. Surprisingly enough, my fellow lunch buddies who are otherwise all sorts of incarnation of the word ‘mischief’ seemed to be quite sorted out about their life dreams.
Some wanted to become engineers, some doctors, few of the nerds wanted to be scientists, one extremely imaginative one even wanted to fly like a bird. Then the teacher turned to me, tortured, amused, bewildered by these various responses, she seemed ready for yet another one from me. I read, “I want to be Happy in Life.” What followed was a deafening bout of laughter from my classmates. Little did I know they were laughing at me and not with me. But the teacher seemed different. For once in the last 30 minutes she seemed ‘happy’. Guess I made my first connection as a writer and my audience ‘identified’ with my emotion.
The second such incident is set in my School Graduation ceremony. I was the school captain and also fortunately the school Valedictorian. Well I thought of Americanizing the fact that I was the school topper, cause being from India, we don’t have Valedictorians. We just have the same old title of ‘School Topper’. Guess I needed you all to identify with the situation as I go ahead with the example. So as is customary the topper gives a speech. Usually these speeches speak of the promises of brighter future, promises of striving ahead and all such clichés. But instead of reading out my speech, I handed my Principal an envelope and requested him to open it during his speech which was next.
The Principal opened the envelope and in there was written “Thank You for everything.” After about 10 seconds of silence, a round of applause greeted both of us on stage. The Principal asked me, “Why not read it out yourself?” To which I took the envelope from his hand and turning it round, I handed it over to him again. It was a class photograph of me, my classmates and my teachers. In that moment, the warm smile on his face, captured the essence of the moment. I had expressed my gratitude and he had received a memory. This was me connecting to my audience, my school through my sense of gratitude.
The third example is set in college. The event was Interdepartmental Debate Finals. I was supposed to speak for the motion, which was “Can India be a superpower”. My fellow participants all spoke very eloquently using tough economics terms, statistics from various surveys and presented their own well-crafted opinions. I chose to go at the last. All the while I was waiting and listening to my fellow participants, I looked over to my audience and saw two of them yawing, few texting but the judges genuinely seemed impressed with the speeches thus far. But the judges were all eminent Economists, whereas the audience were all college students, who barely knew these difficult words, and even if they did, least were they interested in the debate and more on the free food that was provided.
When my turn came, I had a long speech ready, but I didn’t read a word out of it. I instead chose to involve the audience and threw the question to them. One very enthusiastic gentleman from the crowd rose and thanking me for the opportunity to allow them to speak, participated in the debate. While he was speaking I looked over to the few people I had mentioned earlier, the people on their cell phones now seemed to carefully note the debate but however the judges seemed unimpressed. And as the debate concluded and I didn’t win all thanks to my unconventional mode of speaking, I took another learning in my journey as a writer and reader. What appeals to some might not appeal to others.
Today I work with a magazine house, all the while pursuing my studies as an Actuary. The reason I presented these three examples in my journey as a writer was to highlight the reason why ‘Connecting to the Audience’ was my response to the question ‘What makes something well written’. My writing style has often been praised as well as critiqued as to ‘not follow the traditional structure’. But I guess what I try as a writer and shall always try, is to connect to the audience, and often times, my unpolished and unconventional vocabulary and dialect has helped them identify with the similar experiences in their life.
Some really seem bemused by my interest in writing, while being a Mathematician. But I find it all the more bewildering how people so consciously differentiate the experimentations in science from the writings in literature. Ask me and I would say there is quite a striking resemblance in each for the other.
In Science, we use Mathematics as the language, just like we use English to write the Literature. In Scientific experiments, we culminate a certain amount of knowledge and apply them to experiment with something so as to help the race of human beings in general. In the world of Writing, writers culminate a certain amount of emotions(read knowledge) and apply them to appeal(read experiment) to the senses of his audience(read the race of human beings). Today, writing is not just a passion, but rather is my favourite tool of expression. For as William Wordworth said : “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”