On Writing, On Wednesday: Write for You
“When you do something noble and beautiful and nobody noticed, do not be sad. For the sun every morning is a beautiful spectacle and yet most of the audience still sleeps.” – John Lennon
The minute you start writing for anyone other than yourself is the minute you lose the kind of authenticity that will make your writing great. Pleasing the reader is an ill-fated practice in ridding your prose of the distinct “you-ness” that draws him or her to your work in the first place.
What is you-ness? Did I make that up? Yep, I did. You-ness is a slippery thing to explain but it lives in a comfortable two-bedroom condo inside your mind and it also lives in the thoughts that slip through your fingers; no one else in the world collects words together quite like you do. Trust me. Own that fact and run with it like you’re a word-smithing Road Runner and a Wyle E. Coyote made from platitudes and mediocrity is biting at your tail.
Then, just when you think you’ve lost him, keep running some more, far from the conventional or the bromidic to a strange, funky place that only you can see. And it’s hard. I get it. What I’m suggesting is not as easy as picking up your feet and simply escaping the claws of public opinion altogether. You couldn’t do that even if you tried; the public will forever be there (the coyote, despite eternal rejection always came back for more), the trick is to learn not to care.
Let’s approach this concept another way: Art, writing, music … none of it is about creation, it’s all about release. You’re not taking vast nothingness and turning it into something, you’re assembling the little somethings that already exist within you and setting them free in whatever form they may take. It’s an internal process and it happens irrespective of what anyone else tells you to play or draw or write.
That’s not to say you should print this post, fold it into the back pocket of your most comfortable jeans and hop on a jet plane to a remote island in Fiji where WiFi can’t begin to dream of working and Snapchat means breaking twigs while attempting to converse with iguanas.
No, you should still be aware of what’s happening in the writing universe and especially take care to study the greats, those particular authors who are so good it hurts. Just don’t let any of the stuff you read make you think less of yourself or your abilities and don’t let anyone define what you should or shouldn’t do. Unless that person does it in such an absurd way that you find him the inspiration for the central villain of your next story. Then listen very, very carefully to every single thing coming from his mouth. Because while writing may be an expression that comes from within, inspiration is everywhere, meaning all the world’s your stage, just don’t mind whether the audience claps or boos. Either way, when the curtain—or the sun—rises tomorrow, the show must go on.