Wait, Who Am I Actually Writing To?

I loved the Revising and Refining exercise, because I’ve been bouncing back and forth between who I want to speak to through my piece. Evaluating some key players (and those not so key) really helped me narrow down who I want to impress, and who I can stop focusing my attention on so much. The people I chose to evaluate include:

 

A top expert in your field:

  • Michael J. Weller
    A Michael J. Weller zine cover.
    A Michael J. Weller zine cover.

    is a British zine artist and writer. He got in on the zine movement when it was first starting to take root back in the 1970s, responding to British counterculture movements, especially within the punk genre. He even designed a postmodernist album insert for David Bowie, which is very cool and zine-like.

  • How he might respond: To be honest, Michael would probably think my zine is pretty amateur, but then he might ask: aren’t zines supposed to be amateur? Because he was so involved in the height of punk counterculture, Michael would probably think the topic of my zine (college) is too mainstream. Still, that’s okay. By taking a mainstream topic like college and placing it in the zine format, I’m hoping to question some social norms and put readers in a resistive mood when reading, in hopes that they will look at the institution from a new, possibly skeptical, light. Nevertheless, though he’ll never see it, impressing Michael J. Weller would be amazing.

 

A close peer in the minor in writing:

  • My blog group knows my project pretty well at this point, so I feel like they would be able to give me fair and honest critiques of my work. I’ve gone over my ideas with them step-by-step throughout this process, so they know where I started, how I’ve shifted my thinking, and where I want to go.
  • How they might respond: Since I’ve been talking to them so much about my project, they probably won’t be too surprised by the final draft. However, since we’re all seniors at U of M, I hope they can see the humor and relate to it as well. If not, I may need to broaden my stories or switch up some topic interpretations.

 

A peer from outside the minor in writing:

  • My friend Sarah is someone I’ve known since freshman year, so she may be able to relate to some of the topics and stories I’m writing about in the zine. We also have a similar sense of humor, so I feel like her opinions would be very useful when determining what’s actually funny and what should be cut.
  • How she might respond: I really hope that Sarah would think a lot of this is very funny. I usually talk to her about topics like this all the time and she really understands my voice both as a writer and as a person. In this piece, my voice really overlaps between writer and conversational-human-being, which I think both contributes to the humor and will help readers like Sarah really see the humor.

 

Someone who isn’t an expert in writing or in your field:

  • This sounds cheesy, but my mom isn’t an expert in writing or zines, but I still think I’d want people like her to get something out of this work. She went to college so she probably has some memories that would relate to my writing in the zine, but since the genre would be completely new to her, her perspective would be valuable in determining whether the zine design or extraneous features add or take away from the written content.
  • How she might respond: Looking at the writing alone, I think my mother would find a decent amount of humor from this zine. She would relate to the group project parts (since I’ve complained about them to her multiple times), as well as other timeless topics like dorm rooms. Still, there are some things she wouldn’t get, such as Michigan-specific themes. I’m totally fine with this though; the zine genre was created to serve underground communities and tend to be incredibly localized, so I am targeting the piece toward current University of Michigan students, incoming students, faculty, and somewhat-recent alumni. She also might not really get the zine genre as a whole, but my mom’s not really an “edgy or underground” type of person, so I don’t really think she would be familiar with them to start with. Still, she’d likely get something out of the design elements and postmodern, scratchy expression in correlation with the theme itself.

 

This exercise really made me realize that my audience does NOT have to be all-inclusive. I’m seeing how, especially as part of the highly-localized zine genre, exclusivity could actually enhance the piece. It’s providing me a lot of freedom to think that not everyone has to get it; when I was writing my rough draft, I felt the need to over-explain some things and broaden my thoughts so that everyone who ever went to college (or even heard of college) at any time in their life would totally and completely get all of the jokes. Now, I see that that’s not necessary. I’ll probably respond to this more detailed target audience by going through and localizing the piece by tweaking the design and through design elements. I’ll include pictures specific to the University of Michigan to make my specific audience clear.

 

Leave a Reply