*Read/hear/buy my poem-on-a-postcard at Hoot!*
I’ve been having a lot of dreams about Obama lately. The other night I dreamed that I was in a play, and when I peeked out from behind the curtains, Barack and Michelle were standing in the audience, off to the side with their secret service men, as if they were going to watch part of the performance and then sneak out to some other important engagement.
“Wow,” I said. “The Obamas are here. I better do a good job and not offend them.”
And then, last night, I dreamed that I went to a Madonna concert, followed by parent-teacher conference night at my old middle school. Obama was there again.
As I was wondering what to say, Barack smiled at me and said, “you know I follow your blog.”
“You do?” I was stunned. My god, the president was reading my blog. I hoped I hadn’t written anything embarrassing.
“I don’t get a chance to read every post, but I try to keep up,” he said.
I was dumb-founded and had trouble thinking of what to say. “Well, I had a dream about you last night,” I told him. “I dreamed I was in a play and you came to it.”
He laughed, but I could tell he felt awkward. “Michelle was there, too,” I added, but he’d already turned and was talking to someone else.
I’m pretty sure I know where these dreams came from. My ESL student and I were recently analyzing famous people’s signatures, including Obama’s and Madonna’s, which is why they showed up in my unconscious. And my go-to stress dream is always “I’m in a play and I don’t know my lines,” (or, in this case, “I’m in a play and the President is here”).
There’s another reason, too.
The other day, Paul was on the phone with his mom. “Hey, Eva,” he said, “what’s the title of the blog post you wrote about transvestites?”
“Ummm… Hold on, I can tell you.” I searched through my posts. “It’s called Reincarnation, Feminism, and Why We Need Books, or, If Only Everyone Were Transsexual,” I said. “Why?”
Apparently, Paul’s mom, who follows my blog, was sending links to her friends and family of what she thought were my best posts.
“My whole family is dying to meet you,” Paul said when he got off the phone. “They’ve been reading your blog. You’re like a celebrity.”
Oh my God, I thought, Paul’s extended family is reading my blog? I hoped I hadn’t written anything ridiculous. Wait, who was I kidding? I’d written a hundred ridiculous things, at least.
“I better be careful what I write,” I said. I wondered what types of posts Paul’s family would appreciate. I wondered if there was anything that would offend them.
This is probably why I dreamed about Obama reading my blog. I was thinking about who, exactly, is reading my posts.
Recently I gave the first few chapters of my newly-completed novel first draft to some friends for feedback. Jeni got back to me right away. She liked it so far, but her number one concern was my audience. She said the first chapter seemed appropriate for middle schoolers, and the second chapter seemed more geared towards older teenagers. “Would an adult read this book?” she asked. “Who is the reader?”
And she’s right. I can never decide who I’m writing for. Teenage girls? Adults? Barack and Michelle Obama? I want everyone to like it!
I also heard back from the agent who had originally been interested in the novel. She said the prose was a little too “literary” for her, since she normally deals with commercial fiction. I frowned at that. Can’t it be literary and commercial? Can’t it be marketed towards everyone?
Most of the time I write and post my blog entries with little thought as to who is actually reading them. Over time I’ve learned that my audience includes my grandma, old college friends, ex-boyfriends, and Paul’s entire extended family. It’s a good thing I don’t think much about it. If I spent time worrying about pleasing all my readers, I’d never write anything.
That’s probably true for writing a novel, too. But now I’m in the revising stage. And at this point, I do need to peek out from behind the curtain and consider who is standing in my audience. I can’t please everyone, and if I try, the novel won’t please anyone at all. But if I can decide who my readers are likely to be, I can work on entertaining them to the best of my abilities.
It’s a hard notion for a people-pleaser like me, to admit that not everyone is going to like what I write. But Obama probably won’t have time to read my novel anyway, so at least I don’t have to worry about pleasing him.