Writing for Others: Selfish?
So I just got an idea for an essay for my “memoir,” if you can call it that, and it occurred to me — this particular essay, this idea, might be interesting only to myself.
And because of this thought, I lost the impetus to write it.
Now, I can understand not wanting to include it in the essay collection — if it’s not enjoyable to others, it’s not marketable, and not viable for a collection I hope to publish.
But why did I not want to write it at all? Not even to post on this blog? This low-risk, audience-sparse blog?
Why do I need my work to speak to someone else? Why must its meaning be translatable, a connection between myself and someone else?
Why don’t I write just for me?
The true answer is sometimes I do write just for me. I keep a journal which I have no intention of publishing. However in those cases I don’t put any work into it — I just write.
This essay idea was going to take work. And I didn’t want to do it if I couldn’t share it.
Does that say anything about me?
Do I write only out of ambition?
I don’t think that’s true. I think this might simply mean that writing isn’t only expression for me: it’s about expression to something, about the connection of minds.
Maybe that isn’t too bad. But it’s definitely not what writing is for a lot of people. In many books it is said that your writing should first and foremost be only for yourself.
Should I try to change myself to fit that mold?
I’ve often thought I should. I thought it was selfish to write hoping others might get something out of it. Do want someone to listen. I should be happy being the only listener! All pleasure and satisfaction should spring from myself alone.
You see where I am going with this. Now, when I think about it, that’s a little absurd. I am not the Point in Pointland (a subject I mean to cover more in depth later). I am not a solipsism (thanks to Christopher Hitchens for introducing me to that word). I exist as a human amongst humans and as such having the desire to reach out to my fellow humans is natural. I shouldn’t be ashamed of it.
I’m easily ashamed, but I need to let go of that: let go, and keep expressing myself, and projecting my expressions, hoping someone will listen at the other end.