I need an audience to be able to write. This is a fact that I sometimes try to change, or ignore, but it is a fact that doesn’t allow itself to be changed or ignored, and I have learned to stop trying.
What does it mean for me, this need for an audience? I have felt it for as long as I can remember. When I was a little boy, I would create fantastic tales, and recite them to my beloved mother, who often indulged me further by acting as my stenographer, bridging for me the frustrating gap between my rabidly-fecund creative mind and my utter paralysis when confronted with the project of converting those creations into any kind of written form. I still have a file folder of those early works, and I know that she has a much larger one at home. I was a creative little prisoner to my own perfectionism, and it was a long and painful journey to escape. I am still not sure that the escape is complete, but I keep running, just in case.
Throughout my high school years I kept a diary, primarily as a record of my already-bizarre dreams, but also filled with adolescent hopes, fears, dreams, and the like. From the very first pages my very private prose assumes an audience, or at least posterity. This usually took the form of direct apologies to my “dear readers” after long gaps in my entries, although the pages are also scattered with editorial remarks and clarifications in the form of footnotes and marginalia.
Once I left home, it was as a student pursuing a degree in English; my audience — in the form of professors and classmates — came with the package. And when this was not enough, I started publishing my own newsletter about, what else, me.
The Floating Egg was an amazing era for me, and while I hesitate to declare that chapter closed, it is increasingly apparent to me that the Egg will probably never again be what it once was, and if it does live on, it will be in some highly evolved form (e.g. this blog). Some other time, perhaps, I would like to explore the history and evolution of that shameless little publication, but for now I think this acknowledgment will suffice: the Egg made me into the writer I am, both by feeding and fueling my need for an audience, and by allowing me to develop — sometimes with excruciating awkwardness — my voice, and the confidence to write with clarity and flair about my real experiences. I shared myself in those pages, and it felt good.
And I continue to create my own audience today. This blog is read by no more than five or six people that I know of (although none of you have been commenting on anything yet, so it is hard to really know…), and yet this new venue is one of the highlights of my life right now. I love to write, I love being a writer, and I don’t ever want to stop. And as long as I can believe that people out there are reading the words I put on this or any other page, I will never have to.