Paul Valéry about “writing for someone”?

Paul Valéry writes in one of his Notebooks a dozen lines about… writing. I translate it – sorry for my English :

One must work for Someone; and not for unknowns. One must aim somebody, and the more you aim this someone clearly, the best is the work and the yield of the work. The work of spirit is entirely determined – only if someone is in front of it. The one who addresses, aims at someone, addresses to all. But the one who addresses to everybody addresses to nobody.
It is all about finding this someone. This somebody gives the tone to the language, gives the extent to explanations, measures the attention one can ask.
To picture someone is the great skill of the writer.

Again : sorry for my English. It’s very hard, here. I bolded the bold.

This declaration has a strange effect on me. It’s like being inside the head of a thinker (and in fact, that’s it).

  • You want to say “Noooo that’s NOT that simple”.
  • You want to say : “One must care about an audience”.
  • Or maybe “You must write to please yourself, and the audience will come”.

Questions for bloggers, right?

But somewhere there’s a bell in my head saying “He’s right”. Some of us maybe invent a human someone, aggregating people we know, people we imagine, followers and readers, old friends, until we have this strange modeled golem : our Reader.

 

Thanks for reading, and have a nice day!

Jean-Pascal

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Instagram : _bodylanguage_

 

Il faut travailler pour Quelqu’un ; et non pour inconnus. Il faut viser quelqu’un, et plus nous le visons nettement, meilleur est le travail et le rendement du travail. L’ouvrage de l’esprit n’est entièrement déterminé que si quelqu’un est devant lui. Celui qui s’adresse à quelqu’un, s’adresse à tous. Mais celui qui s’adresse à tous ne s’adresse à personne.
Il s’agit seulement de trouver ce quelqu’un. Ce quelqu’un donne le ton au langage, donne l’étendue aux explications, mesure l’attention qu’on peut demander.
Se représenter quelqu’un est le plus grand don de l’écrivain.

 

10 thoughts on “Paul Valéry about “writing for someone”?

  1. geul December 17, 2017 / 2:33 pm

    “L’ouvrage de l’esprit n’est entièrement déterminé que si quelqu’un est devant lui.”

    Je me demande pourquoi l’ouvrage doit etre determine…

    Dailleurs

    Moi, ce quelqu’un c’est moi. Je lis ce que j’ecris comme si c’etait ecrit par quelqu’un d’autre. Alors j’ai toujours quelqu’un devant moi.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Rachel McAlpine December 17, 2017 / 5:49 pm

    I find this is a useful ploy, but not the ultimate solution for finding the voice you need for a specific work. Writing for a particular reader has many benefits, especially in the corporate field.

    Like

  3. Food & Art sans blabla January 12, 2018 / 10:06 pm

    Hi,
    I spoke about Paul Valéry with Degas for an exhibition, it is quite interesting to read your article after. Thank you !
    PS : photos are incredible ! 🙂

    Like

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