This is a follow-up to this post based on emails I received.
1) Writing makes me self-conscious. Self-consciousness is the worst form of audience awareness. It is less rational than a critical eye - more like a dark cluster of emotions: sadness, fear and loneliness. When I write, I feel as though I am playing with an extremely thin thread, unintentionally tying tight little knots with my large clumsy fingers.
1a) "I tie knots" :: "Try not tying knots" :: "Tying not-knots?" :: Yes, try tying not-knots"
2) To try and trick the self-consciousness away I framed this blog as “Notes and Advice to Someone Just Like Me.” I assumed that someone like me would be a more forgiving audience.
3) I was wrong. Ha!
4) I appreciate the irony of writing a series of posts on collaboration in the most non-collaborative way. I am open to suggestions. Ha!
5) When I used the word “trance” I didn’t mean an actual trance and I was not trying to romanticize the creative process. I meant it in the spirit of “he walked through the room as if in a trance.” - a lack of awareness of the outside world (in this case, the audience.)
6) I believe that the process I described in “audience awareness” is not limited to large projects; it can happen when I write emails, when I put on clothes, or when I have a conversation. I go through the process whenever I do or make something with the intention of being perceived by something external. There are exceptions. In some conversations (the good ones) you can feel joined with the other person to the extent that they do not seem to be an external audience. I would call this a trance, too (or participation). And it can be jarring when you separate.
7) Someone pointed out to me that “audience awareness” has quite a bit to do with feedback. How you conceive of an audience is often greatly affected by the sorts of feedback you receive. Two issues come to mind that might be worth exploring further. One I would call “On Being Thin Skinned”, which would deal with the difficulty of being emotionally open to feedback in a world where genuine assholes roam. And the other would be “On the Squeaky Wheel” which would deal with the fact that in most cases only a small portion of the audience will give feedback.