Persona and Perception

I’d say the single thing that struck me the most about this piece was the idea of creating the role your reader would portray. From previous experience, I have generally never thought about this when writing. You mean I actually have to decide how my reader will read this? I like to think of writing for the most part as something for myself, the reader perceiving it however they choose. Unless it is an essay for a specific class on a particular subject, then I aim to please my instructor for the most part. The three roles described in this piece included: “Entertain Me with Something Interesting I Don’t Know,” “Help Me Understand Something Better,” or “Help Me Solve a Practical Problem.” After reading their descriptions, I definitely agreed with them. Thinking about the various readings I encounter each week, I think it is definitely clear what role I would have in them. For example, a post on Facebook I read recently off of the “Humans of New York” site was about a man whose wife had passed away ten years ago. He referred to the life he used to live with her, in reference to the old notebooks they wrote in together. I believe this could be classified into “Entertain Me with Something Interesting I Don’t Know,” role because it puts a highlight on this particular man’s life in which I was unaware of before. One thing I might disagree with in classifying readers’ roles in my own writing would be only being able to classify them as one type of reader, reading for one purpose. I would argue that in some articles, you could be reading to solve a practical problem, but at the same time, you could be reading information that you didn’t previously know, simultaneously enjoying it!

Another argument I could make toward the roles of both the writer and the reader regard perception. As hard as a writer may try to present his or her work in a certain light, someone else will always have a new outlook on it. But, this could be both a positive and negative experience. For example, I wrote a poem for my English 223 class, Creative Writing, about my grandmother last week. I wrote it kind of as a way for the reader to be able to envision certain moments I had with my grandma, the end kind of describing the impact she had on every person in our family and the hurt we felt when she passed. Then, I went into a conference with my professor and her take on the poem was drastically different than mine, causing me to question what my intention was in the first place! She kind of saw my work as describing all grandmothers, because she thought the moments I looked back on could have happened to anyone. My other underlying message within the poem was my desire to take on some of the phenomenal traits my grandma embodied and reflect them into my own life. Though I thought I had done this effectively, she didn’t quite catch that vibe. Positively, I really liked the ideas she gave me for my poem. Negatively, I kind of was thrown off that my poem came off as cliché and not how I wanted it to. I guess you could say that as a writer, you may decide the role of the reader, but you will have to be prepared for the reader to morph and take on your piece as more (or less) than you originally had intended.

All in all, I found this piece to really highlight some things as a writer I know I do, but I had never really thought about to a certain extent before. I really appreciated that this writer specifically pointed out that this book was written with the knowledge of us, the readers, having a certain persona that they hoped we would “comfortably adopt.” Now after reading this, I have already started to think about my audience more carefully not only for my projects, but for all the writing I do!

Or it is a song for children about the adventure of a spider…

2 thoughts to “Persona and Perception”

  1. I like your idea of how each writer comes in with a certain background and experience that he/she pours into his writing. The reader, however, has no concept of the behind the scenes motivations and will therefore refer to his/her own available schema of life experiences to interpret the piece. The persona of an individual writer is something very important, and something I am trying to cultivate in this class. But how are we supposed to choose this? What are we emulating? Do we cater our persona to our readers, ourselves, or meet in the middle?

  2. Your post raises an interesting question about the responsibility of a writer. Are we supposed to write solely for our audience, or can we be “selfish” and write as an outlet for our feelings and opinions? And is that even selfish at all? I was also excited to read your Humans of New York reference because I follow the photoblog on Facebook too 🙂 While its photos definitely entertain me with interesting captions, I’d also argue that they can teach me something new about the world and people around me! Your experience with the poem about your grandmother highlights a struggle that writers constantly face: the struggle to please every person that reads their piece. We know we can’t please everyone, but it can be hard to take criticism or disagreement. Great post!

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