Who’s Your Audience? A Profile of Lynne Tillman


Considering the  emergence of the blog and poster campaign, What Would Lynne Tillman Do?, 12th Street thought it apropos to pose just that- in terms of writing. Here is what the preeminent author and New School faculty member had to say about  speaking to her audience.


At the beginning, when I started to show my writing to people, to give readings from it, I had no audience. No one has an audience at the start, because no one is waiting. Certainly not for your work. To think that would be delusional. There was no audience for my writing. To the extent that I have one now, it is because, over time, say, 25 years of my writing’s being published, people called readers have come upon a story or novel or essay of mine and thought, I’d like to read more. This amazing relationship — a reader finding a writer whom he or she would like to read — begins accidentally and might become a habit or practice. If I think about readers who look forward to my next novel, I feel inspired to finish it. Those readers are important to me, though I don’t write for them. I certainly don’t want to disappoint them with a poor book or story; but I don’t write for them. I’m encouraged by the thought of them. In a real sense, readers are more important than writers. There are too many of us anyway, and too many write books that are nothing more than words used poorly in sentences that don’t signify in novels or stories that are primarily thoughtless. But readers — all readers should exist!


Lynne Tillman

Novelist, short story writer, and critic. Her most recent book, her fourth collection of stories, isSomeday This Will Be Funny. Her most recent novel, American Genius, A Comedy, was published by Soft Skull Press in 2006. Her other novels are Haunted HousesMotion SicknessCast in Doubt, and No Lease On Life, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in fiction and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Tillman is also Professor/Writer-in-Residence at the University at Albany.