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Do You Know Your Audience?

by Davalynn Spencer

“I love your book,” she said, dark eyes sparkling with genuine appreciation. “I’m going to finish it tonight. I’m saving the last chapter until after the service.”

“The service” was our church’s Christmas Eve celebration. The dark sparkling eyes belonged to our pastor’s wife.

The pastor’s wife reads romance? My romance?

This surprise encounter with a reader caught me off guard, much like the discovery of a state patrol officer parked along the freeway when I’m driving too fast.

“Thank you,” I said, easing my foot from accelerating emotions. “I’m so glad you’re enjoying it.” And I was. It’s just that I never imagined my inspirational-romance audience was so close.

“I bought your book!” one of my college students said one morning. “My boyfriend and I were looking for a devotional at the Bible book store and I saw yours. ‘Oh look, that’s my teacher,’ I told him. So we bought it.”

Students buy devotional books? My devotional book?

Accountability shifted into high gear.

What a risk we writers take laying our thoughts out for others to love or loathe. Each word bears a tiny image of our soul that transmits joy when embraced and agony when refused. It could be a wearying process, and is for many who give up on their dream.

But most of us don’t write for approval or pats on the back. If kudos were the driving motivation, that car wouldn’t get us around the block. We write because we have to. Writing ranks at the top of our survival list just below “Breathe, eat, sleep.” For some, writing pushes in just after “Breathe.”

So what do we do when we run into someone who isn’t thrilled with our genre, like the woman in the grocery store who, upon hearing I write inspirational fiction, offered a consoling, “Oh, that’s all right”?

We focus on our first audience-not our niche or targeted readers or those ladies who sit behind us in church-but the one original Author who shares His words with us. His mercy and counsel give us the grace to smile regardless of what people say.

We write for Him, and we pray our stories and characters will be clay in His hands to open readers’ eyes to His truth.

It really is all about Him, and that’s what we need to remember as we maneuver around the potholes in this writing journey.

Davalynn SpencerDavalynn Spencer is an author, speaker, columnist and educator. She lives in Colorado with her husband, Mike, and their Queensland heeler, Blue, and tries not to write while she’s driving.

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2 Responses to Do You Know Your Audience?

  1. Karla Akins says:

    I love this. I can’t wait until that happens to me. :-) But yes, what an accounability issue! We never know who is watching us or reading us or soaking in what we say. Our words have weight. And they are most effective when HE is doing the writing! Congrats!

  2. Rick Barry says:

    I, too, was pleasantly surprised when fellow church members began saying things like, “I just read your Gunner’s Run novel” or “I’m reading one of your books to my kids.” Normally when I write, these are not the people I picture as my readers. Maybe they should be!