This quote is attributed to Gertrude Stein but I’m thinking that any number of successful authors would echo her sentiment. But, and it is a big but, kinda like Oprah’s when she’s not on her diet days, you want to know what the Penguin thinks about all of this.
So, what do I think of all of this malarkey about writing for myself and not for the strangers. Well, I can tell you that I am torn on the subject, divided down the middle with a white picket fence post positioned precariously underneath my rectum. Queue your own punch line here if you want. And now, I defend my death defying straddle for you all.
I do write for myself. Ultimately, I write what I want to write, how I want to write it, and whenever I feel the creativity is flowing. I can’t be forced to sit down and write. A deadline helps, but I usually just use a few days of the time allotted, the days I feel I’m ready to write, and hammer out most of what needs to be done.
The driving force behind Aaric, the young adult novel I’ve finished, wasn’t a publisher, an agent, or a family member or friend. The driving force was me and my desire to see MY creation come to life. I am selfish. I am needy. There are times when I am writing and editing, that I don’t really care about what advice I have received from others about my work. I know what I want it to say and only I am responsible. Besides, most of the stuff I write never sees the light of day so if I’m not writing it for the audience that sees it, me, than who else would I be writing it for?
And here is where I get conflicted about this whole writing thing. As my frequent readers will tell you, and I will tell you, I am genuinely embarrassed and a little awestruck when I receive compliments about my writing in any way, shape, or form. I love to write, I honestly do, and while I wrote before I joined this website, I have found that I have another reason to write now. I have readers. I won’t call you strangers even though we have never met. Many of you know much about my life, as you’ve read my adventures from the soccer field, to the dating arena, to a mini vacation in London, to my surprise move to Saudi Arabia, and on to Dubai and a safari to boot. And I know much about your lives. Well, as much as we want to share with each other. And this is when I tend to think that I do write for the “strangers” as well.
Sure writing is at times therapeutic for me. Sure it is a wonderful way for me to vent and relieve the stresses that have piled up during the day. It’s a lot safer for me to write down my feelings about the idiots I encounter on a daily basis than to just snap at the first person to tick me off with acts of stupidity or ignorance. So I often use the blog pages to write down what I’m feeling. I don’t know if you can say I’ve been blessed or cursed with the way I think about things but what you see is what you get. I push the envelope at times and for the most part people that read me do realize that I am only spouting off and don’t really live by the words I’m compelled to write.
And as much as I think I can write, that I was born to write in some form or another, the compliments and accolades that are thrown my way do have me welling up with pride. I don’t care who you are – if someone says something nice about you, if you’ve got any sense of morality and humility, you will feel one part embarrassed and one part proud. And now, for the revelation.
I seriously love, and I mean that kind of love you get from Swedish twins whose only words of spoken English are “I want to ride you like a Harley on a bumpy road”, clicking on my blog page and seeing that I’ve had X amount of new views since the last day. And most of these views are by strangers. The blog readers that stop by and comment, you aren’t strangers to me. I read your work, we talk, we laugh, you are my peers, an inspiration, and friends. But the blog readers who don’t comment are strangers to me. I don’t know you; but I’d like to. And even though I don’t know you, sitting there lurking in the shadows, maybe with a glass of wine, maybe with my picture stolen from my blog on your dartboard as target practice, I still write this blog for you (but mainly still for me).
I was told once that I like nothing more than the attention that comes from people I don’t know. I was told that something about praise or affection from other sources ignited something in me. I don’t know how true this is but on a level I would tend to agree. I won’t lie to you. My past relationship break down was my fault, ultimately, and while it was hard for me to let go, you learn to live with it. And I became active on this site, read and followed people, had them read and follow back, and the reviews and comments and compliments from people I never thought would read my work made me feel confident, capable, and sometimes, like the greatest catch a woman will ever meet. It’s weird, I can’t explain it.
In a way I do write for the strangers. Well, my blog at least. I totally need the comments, the feedback, the sometimes acclaim that comes with it. Maybe I’m an attention whore, and therefore not the catch I think I am. In person, I’m the opposite. I’m reserved, a sweetheart who will hold doors, cook dinner, and listen into the early hours of the morning. On these pages, fueled by my delusional images of grandeur, I’m arrogant, conceited, willing to push boundaries I dare only think about casually in real life. And I do it because I know I’m being read. I do it because I know there is an audience out there, maybe not expecting it from me, but hoping that I hit them with something they might not want to admit they think about themselves. I’m fine being the center of attention. That is the Leo in me I suppose. And the more my readership grows, the more adventurous and arrogant I will become. Until someone gives me a compliment and I remember exactly who I am.
Phew, I came clean. My readers do mean something to me. And that includes the ones I don’t even know are reading my stuff. But I still write for me. Don’t need you guys taking all the credit. You know how I feel about sharing the spotlight. I wore a dress in ta pantomime damnit and deserved the big applause at the end. Man, it is tough being the Penguin sometimes.