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JOAN BARTH ON: ACTOR OR AUDIENCE?

November 9, 2009

Joan BarthAre you an actor or the audience? I frequently go to the Broadway theatre with my daughter – I love hearing her laugh in a darkened auditorium. We are part of an audience there. We take no risks. We only listen to the actors onstage and go outdoors to state our assessment of their work. (Once, I was interviewed by a reporter for my evaluation of a play. My comments appeared in the next day’s Daily News.) We decide on the play’s worth but we don’t have to say lines in front of a house full of strangers nine times a week.

In writing a novel, we do take risks. Will the reader like me? Will he or she recommend my work to friends or family? Will he or she laugh at my funny lines? When I’m serious, will my intent be recognized?

When I write, I am like the actor. I take the risks. Work that has taken me years to finish is read in a few days. Sometimes the reader puts it in a box for donation to the library. I can only hope my audience recommends my work.

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