I could not write on an island

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.

2 Comments

  1. A writer who wants an audi­ence well that’s a lit­tle uncan­ny my dear but if it works well to you then you must con­tin­ue.

    You write so well and read­ing your works made me feel so ama­teur­ish.

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