A friend asked me why I do this, why I blog. So I asked her why she plays golf.
We do what we do because we love it, need it. Or both. Because, despite the fact the many bloggers pretend they “write for themselves,” it’s untrue. We blog because we want other people to read our words, to connect with our ideas. If we wanted to write “for ourselves,” we’d keep a diary.
Why are bloggers so coy about wanting an audience? Is it because they aren’t getting a good response, so instead of trying to figure how to bring in more readers and followers, they say they don’t care whether or not anyone reads them?
And then when one of us is moderately successful and popular, they get all squinchy-eyed and moralistic, as if we’ve ruined the purity of the blogging experience.
Really? Seriously? When did we achieve that lofty spiritual level where we are above worldly concerns … like popularity and success? The hypocrisy of it takes my breath away. If that is how you really feel, you shouldn’t be blogging.
We all care. Anyone who says otherwise is lying — probably to themselves and definitely to us. We all want to be read, to be seen, to have an audience. If we take pictures, we want people to look at our images and say “Wow, that’s amazing.” Because we want to be amazing.
Writing is like breathing. If I don’t write, I suffocate. My friend? She needs to compete. To play golf. Or she will suffocate.
TELL ME HOW TO WRITE
I can’t begin to count the number of people who tell me they want to be writers, but don’t know how to start.
That they ask the question suggests they will never be writers. Writers write. No one has to tell you how or when. You write and will keep doing it because it’s not what you do, it’s what you are. You may not write brilliantly, but you will write. You’ll get it right eventually. Doing is learning.
I started writing as soon as I could read. Putting words on paper was the same as speaking, but took longer. I didn’t mind the extra time because I could go back and fix written words. Being able to change the words and keep changing them until they said precisely what I wanted them to say was the prize.
I was socially awkward and my youthful verbal skills not well-suited to my age and stage in life. I wasn’t good at sports. No one wanted me on the team. In retrospect, I can understand it, but when I was a kid, it hurt.
Games and other social activities let you become popular, make friends, and do those other things which matter to kids. I couldn’t do that stuff, but I could write. And read. I might be a klutz, but words let me build worlds.
If you are going to be a writer, you know it. Practice will make you better, help you understand how to build plots, produce books publishers will buy. But writing itself is a gift. If you have it, you know it.
Writers have words waiting to be written, lining up for the opportunity to be set on paper or in the computer. It may take a while for you to find what you want to write about. But you will write.
Talent comes in an endless number of flavors. If you are a musician, you’ll find a way to make music. The same with painting, photography, drawing, running, hitting a baseball or throwing one so that it just skims that outer corner of the plate at 96 miles per hour. Mathematics, engineering, architecture … creativity and talent are as varied as the people who use it.
ADVICE FOR THE BEWILDERED
My advice to hopeful writers is simple. Write.
Don’t talk about it. Do it. Write a lot, as often as you can, even if most of it is crap and you won’t show it to anyone. Sooner or later, you’ll find your way. If you don’t write, it’s your loss, but it may also be the world’s loss. You never know how good you can be if you don’t try.
This blog is my outlet for the millions of words stuffed in my head. Yes, I really want you to read it. It matters to me and I see no reason to pretend it doesn’t.
On the other hand, I hate golf. Can’t figure out why anyone would want to walk around an enormous lawn hitting a little white ball. I can’t think of anything more boring, but I know a lot of golfers. They live for it. The rest of the week is just a pause between tee times.
So, if you don’t get why I write, that’s okay. You don’t have to get it. That I get it and can do it and other people read it … that’s fine.
You do your thing, I’ll do mine. And we will all find happiness doing stuff we love.