Buskers are those musicians--singers, guitar players, the occasional violinist--playing in subways and street corners. For some entertainers, this is an opportunity to perfect performance skills and learn how to connect with an audience. After all, if you can get someone to stop and listen to you in the street, then you must be doing something right.
So, I've been wondering: As writers, do we get that similar kind of opportunity?
Now, more than ever, writers are told to get agents and not to self-publish. And, maybe, if we're talking about sheer numbers of books sold, that's the way to go. (Maybe.)
But, I wonder if this strategy separates us from the people we're actually trying to reach. Some of the most useful criticism I've gotten came from audience reactions when I read in public. Simply by the volume of their applause, by their silence, by their laughs, and by their tears, I came to pick up on what was working in my stories and what wasn't.
Michelle mentioned yesterday that I was down on my writing. I'm realizing that part of my depression comes from the fact that I feel too separated from the people I'm trying to entertain. I'm wondering if I need my busker experience.
How would your writing be affected if you had to present your work directly to an audience with no middle person to help you? Would you learn faster? Would your writing evolve in a different direction that it has? Would that be a good thing?
Note added: Please check out Tricia's comment on this post. She makes my point better than I do!