I don’t know a writer alive who hasn’t fallen in love with the written word by keeping a small journal or diary of some kind. I had one as a child that had a lock on it and contained such gems of wisdom as “I hate my teacher” and “found a dead frog”. Not exactly the stuff of legend.
But I soon morphed into much more episodic tales of teenager angst and love poems. Pages and pages of scribbles and drawings and words were my friends. I kept it in my closet on the shelf with the tarantula. No one would dare reach in to get it.
When blogging came on the scene, I was all for it. I used it like I’d used those journals all those years before, writing whatever came to mind for the time and place, rambling additions of ill-thought-out wisdom. Youth has a tendency to do that.
Now I tend to blog with a purpose. Writing is my goal. Writing is my focus. And I started down this path because I wanted people to read what I wrote. I still do. The most important thing to any writer is to have an audience and I’ve been working hard to build one however small it may be.
So it came as a huge shock to me today when I desperately wanted to be able to write a blog that no one would read. One where I could just spill my guts, heart ache, tears, fears, angers, frustrations, … all those things that if you tell anyone else they think you’re nuts.
The answer was easy if I’d thought about it logically. Just write in a journal, long hand. But then those words are immortal, even if I hide them away, someday, someone will find them and read them.
So my solution was this … I wrote it down on notebook paper complete with tears dripping on the page and snot running down my face and then I ceremoniously burned them in the kitchen sink.
In my attempt to build an audience, I forgot one thing. People who read what I write are going to form opinions about what I say and who I am and what I mean. It doesn’t matter how precise I am with my words, someone somewhere will misunderstand and there will be nothing on the face of this planet that I can do to fix it. It’s like building my own prison one brick at a time … but I can’t stop. The alternative is unthinkable.
How do other authors manage their audience? How do they smooth out the rough spots? And how do they sort their audience from their peers? How do they know which opinions to take and which ones to leave? How do they know which words to put on the page for the world to read and which ones to scribble on notepaper and burn in the sink?