“What’s the purpose of writing?” I would have once said, The communicative event. That’s too lofty a response, but it has some chewable material. The purpose of all sensible, sensate writing is communication, so that’s not a bad thing to have as a writer’s aim. When that aim is successful, it’s often through a kind of ESP between the writer, sending out signals as ink marks on a page (or screen), and the reader, absorbing the message. To paraphrase Stephen King, a creative writer puts thoughts into words, and then someone, in reading those words, sees into the author’s mind.
Worthy writing should lead us to a well-set table and give us the taste, texture, and smell of the food while capturing the difference between the meat and the mustard. I try to put my mind, my brain, there on the page. Though it may take some delving-into and adjustments to my idiom, when a reader feeds off my thoughts through my words, I’ve succeeded as a writer.
. . . and the Target
Creative writing should be geared to an audience, even if a small one, in the same way an architect should have a theoretical client in mind when building a house. For someone to understand and appreciate your work, it helps to have that person listening during the creative process.
Readers with a sense of the world beyond their geographic and cultural borders are the ones I hope to reach. I try to inoculate my plots and stories with character-driven themes and action. If readers find imaginative adventure in this work, and an honest evolution of the characters, then much of my job is done. If, by these actors, settings, and interactions, a reader re-frames some part of his/her outlook, receiving something fresh, something of value, then that’s a satisfying outcome for me.
The pleasures—and difficulties—of creative writing are that you may succeed. If so, you’ll display your art in the most rewarding of theaters, the minds and emotions of others, but they will come to expect, and deserve, your best.