Agnes Update

There's a latest Agnes in my life. (I wonder: will she be tickled to see herself here, wrapped with my words?) This particular Agnes is different from most of the other Agneses in that she sometimes shares with me what she thinks of what she finds here, and that's nice, you know? I mean, it wouldn't be nice if she hated my writing, but then, if that were the case, she probably wouldn't stay an Agnes for long, would she?

A bit of advice I've often seen given to writers is that you should direct a piece toward one person in particular; in doing so, the thinking goes, you can use your knowledge of what that singular reader cares about and enjoys to narrow down the infinite number of things that you might say about a thing. Certain details come to focus, others fade from view.

Unless I'm writing a letter, I basically never follow that advice. I pretty much write for myself. The best pieces, I don't know what they're going to say until I start writing them, so it's not like writing for myself ruins the surprise or anything. When I start the zero draft, I don't know where they're going. That's why I zero-draft. I start by writing something about the topic, and I trust that, through the writing, I will learn what it is I want to say. And I figure that if I write for myself and the piece pleases me--if I say something interesting, and say it well--other people will probably like it too.

But it's genuinely kind of fun to know that there's an Agnes looking over your shoulder. I'd hate to disappoint her, so her presence inspires me to keep my promise to publish, but that's not the important part. Instead it's the hope that maybe, just maybe, if I string the words together just so, I'll delight her. Delighting an Agnes is a great reason to write.

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