February 18th, 2004


It has been the subject of a little debate whether an entry should only be about one topic or whether it’s okay to have a multi-topic entry. Single topics make research easier, of course, but multi-topic entries could conceivably be more interesting – if you don’t care for the first topic, maybe the second or third one will be up your alley.

In the end, I don’t think it matters much. As much as I like to imagine I’m honing my writing skills by writing regularly on here, it would be a mistake to take it seriously – so far, anyway.

Being an honest-to-goodness writer requires a certain amount of transparency, I think. Really opening up and spilling your thoughts onto a page is a dangerous act. No one likes rejection. Revealing your true self in written form is an invitation to criticism. Worse yet, there is the chance of no response at all, which, in many ways, is worse than a negative reaction. I’ve heard that the opposite side of love isn’t hate, it’s ambivalence. To hear someone say “your life and thoughts don’t affect me at all” can be a sobering revelation. Someone stirred negatively enough to say something about it is at least noticing you.

I would also hazard a guess that writing specifically to draw out consoling comments or congratulatory expressions would start to feel empty rather quickly. The self-deprecating writer who says “It’s not very good” or something similar is often really asking you to argue with them on that point. “Convince me that I am good, that I am worth something. I would like a three-point outline from you on why I don’t completely stink.”

At the same time, I don’t believe there is anyone who “writes just to write.” Maybe they do that for a while, but they won’t keep doing it. If there’s no audience, what’s the point? Look at the blogs you read on a regular basis – most of them have some sort of hit counter, mine included. Why? Validation. We want to know that someone’s reading. Even if it’s only a handful of people – a handful can become a “core audience” with not to much mental manipulation. The secret hope is that someone will stumble on what you’ve written and like it enough to come back on a regular basis, and maybe even tell a friend. Someone who “writes just to write” is practicing for something. Either they’ll stop writing all together or they’ll start writing things they want other people to read. Chances are good that when they get to that second stage, they’ll bring up some of their earlier stuff, “just to see…”

I won’t lie to you, I want people to read what I write. Even more, I want people to like what I’ve written. Even more than that, I want them to want to read more. And I want them to tell their friends. I have a fear of success, of course (will fame change me?!?), but it’s mostly founded in wild daydreams. I can’t write under a deadline and I’m mostly unable to produce at will on a given topic. Stream of consciousness writing has a very small environment in which to thrive. An online blog is about as big a terrarium for it that you’ll find.

I started this entry with the intent to bring up several small topics all together, but I think I’ll save those for another entry. I don’t want to muddy the topical waters.

Leave a Reply