Who Am I Writing For?

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A friend asked me yesterday who my target audience is for this blog. I had to stop and think about it. The most obvious answer is “women in general.” But I wonder if that’s quite accurate. Am I writing for women who don’t identify with feminism or for those who do? Am I writing for young women/feminists or old? Upper-class or lower-class? White women or women of color? Democrats or Republicans? Conservatives or liberals? Educated or uneducated? Native or foreign?  Mothers or non-mothers? Women who are single or women who marry? Gen-Xers, milleniums or Baby Boomers?

I don’t like to pigeonhole my readers like that. I would like to think that all women could find something here that they could take away with them. But the truth is, I am writing primarily for people like myself. Because we tend to write about what we know.

We tend to write about what we know

I’ve always thought that made  my writing boring. I read blogs like Feministing and envy their tone and their topics. But then I realize that these are young, with-it women. They have their pulse on what’s going on right now. I’m older and more reflective. I chew on what I want to write about for awhile before I digest it and it becomes part of me. Only then can I share it.

My life is very circumscribed by the fact that I’m white, middle class, moderately educated (bachelor’s degree–that’s considered moderate anymore), and older than fifty. Who wants to listen to an old fogie like me? Maybe young women don’t: I’m not immediate or informed enough. I tend to gravitate toward issues that resonate with me: divorce and marriage, raising children into adulthood, self-fulfillment, careers, financial security, spirituality, retirement and dying. (I obsess about dying.) But instead I’ve been trying to write for younger women, I think. I’ve been trying to tap into their interests and match their enthusiasm.

But in doing so, I haven’t been true to myself. I don’t think and react to life the same way I did when I was in my twenties, thirties and forties. Each decade has its unique issues, joys and problems, self-understanding and world view. In my decade of life, I’m not as prone to belong to causes, to work hard shaping a career, to obsess about my children, to define myself as a wife and mother.  I’ve been in the thick of things and am now sitting on the side-lines. I’m more like a coach than a team-mate. I haven’t retired to being a spectator only, even though it may seem that way to younger women. I’m just not going to be running on the field. (Or anywhere, for that matter.)

My daughters try to convince me that I’m not old. But they don’t listen to me or take my advice. They buy into this society’s idea that youth is good and age is bad. I’m not supposed to “act” old. They push me to exercise, to run (okay, walk) marathons, to go on scary roller coasters. I admit that trying something new is invigorating, but so is coming up with new insights about the old. It’s a matter of what faculties I want to be exercising. It’s more comfortable for me to spend most of my time by myself, writing. Maybe taking an occasional walk or working in my garden. Talking with my husband. Keeping the house from falling down around us. Being available to my children when they need me.

It’s not so much who I’m writing for as it is who I am. Let each woman take away what she can from my writing. I will continue to try to cover a wide range of issues, but I’ll also try to dig more deeply into the ones I address. I haven’t finished my journey; I’m still learning along the way. And I’m more than willing to share what I’ve learned with those who want to hear.

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Ellen Keim

Ellen is a freelance writer, essayist and copy editor, living with three cats and a husband in Columbus, OH.

2 thoughts on “Who Am I Writing For?”

  1. You make me laugh. You make me think. I am saying, “Yes, that is the way it is!” The wisdom that can only come from experiencing heartache and joy, being a daughter and a mother, giving life and accepting death – that is what you have to offer. Most of all, I love that you are painfully honest. Thank you, Ellen.

  2. I read some of the blogs that you have listed in your links roll and I think what strikes me as the biggest difference between those and yours is that your posts do reflect more of a real life, everyday, thoughtful approach to feminism & feminist life. It’s like, this is feminism for grown-ups.

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