I haven’t lived up to my name much lately. I haven’t written many words in the last few weeks and I’ve set foot in the sand just a couple of times.
The latter is likely a significant cause of the former. I do my best work creatively when I regularly seek out and soak in the inspiration of the natural world around me. Sleep is important too. But none of those were abundant for me in November.
Quincy is a yellow Labrador puppy we added to our family November 9th.
Bringing Quincy into our lives destroyed our pre-puppy schedule. Our days were immediately different and sleep was scarce for the first week. That’s all to be expected, of course, when a baby joins a family.
We’re all adjusting to new routines now, and slowly adding back in those activities pushed aside by the urgency of housebreaking and socializing a puppy. Quincy is adjusting to living with a writer, taking naps under my desk while he’s still small enough to fit there.
When we did manage to grab some beach time amidst the recent craziness, we introduced Quincy to the sun, sand, and water that will be a big part of his life now that he’s a part of ours. It didn’t take long for him to discover the joy of running through the sand and splashing with us in the surf. He was a bit suspicious about tidal pools but finally followed our daughter into one.
During our most recent beach walk, Quincy was trotting up ahead of us, looking back and bouncing around in circles urging us to hurry up. Every shell he came across went first into his mouth and then into our hands, and back to the sand. Every stick was scooped up by Quincy and displayed proudly until he reached the next one, always dropping the old in favor of the new.
It was all new to Quincy. And that made it all new again for us.
I’ve written before about how viewing (or reviewing) something from a different perspective helps with the editing process. And seeing things differently than most of our peers is the essence of creativity. It’s also an important part of knowing your audience.
You have to be able to look at what you’re writing from the perspective of your reader to inform, persuade, or entertain.
When I take people to my favorite beach, I point out where we watch dolphins play, where and how we find shells, sea glass, and shark teeth, and how the sun setting behind us reflects back on the ocean and eastern horizon. When I take Quincy to my beach, I show him where he can find sticks, watch (and hope to chase) sea gulls, and run for long stretches in the sand and sunshine. Different visitors want to experience the same beach in their own way.
Knowing your audience can be as simple as focusing on their interests and guiding them toward their goals. You don’t have to share those goals, or agree with their perspectives, but you do have to understand their views if you want to create something with impact. Find out what they’re looking for, what they want to know, what they didn’t realize they were lacking, and give it to them.
Imagine looking at your beach through their eyes, and then show them what they want to see.
Photos attributed to Jeff Janda are used here with his permission. See more of Jeff’s beach photography by following beachpoet on Instagram.