When approaching your audience, doing this may be the hardest price

Clayton J. Hester
2 min readFeb 3, 2022
Photo by davide ragusa on Unsplash

What does your work mean?

Well it greatly depends on whether you’re in art or education, discovery or didacticism.

This is a question which we have to figure out.

And of course, when it comes to engaging and making your way into your audience, there’s a difficulty you have to embrace.

Trusting your readers is a hard rule to learn.

I know, I know. You want to show off your brilliance with every ounce of referential flourish and summarize the insightful moral of your story at the end.

You and me both.

Resist the temptation.

The moment you stop trusting your readers to figure it out for themselves, a little piece of the magic dies.

Remember what makes story so much fun? It’s figuring things out as we go along. When we feel smart because we make a good guess, and everyone nods wisely… well that’s just about the best thing ever.

Oh, and when we get it wrong? Well that’s even more fun, in its own way.

A great story is like a hand of cards; you try to make your reader pick the winning answer every time… but there are always some surprises left over for next time.

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Of course, there’s also debate about whether you get control of the work.

There’s a term I’ve heard tossed around: “narrative tyranny.”

Believe me, I too know the temptation is great to set myself up as Napoleon over the empire of your work.

That desire is there, like Palpatine whispering in your ear: “Do what must be done.”

But as they say, less is more.

Often times, the sheer volume within your words that can be filled by the reader… many times that’s far more profound than our intentions.

There will always be a few people that get what you mean.

And that small, exclusive club makes it worth it.

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Clayton J. Hester

Country boy. Explorer of the creative process & life, the arts, storytelling, innovation and history of ideas. Omnia in gloriam Dei facite — claytonjhester.com