In Search of an Audience

by Elizabeth

It is fine to do the writing alone—of course this is how it gets done, how it often must be done. But too much of this notion of “writing for yourself”! People brandish this idea like a banner, floating it above their writerly heads, as if to say: “we are the authentic ones.” But how silly, and how humiliating, to be accused of “lesser ambitions” if you don’t want to write just for yourself! It’s only natural to share what you have made, to want an audience for your thoughts. After all, your writing concerns itself with the human condition, and how can the human condition be figured out in total isolation? Isn’t part of the desire—like Forster’s—to “only connect”? There is no shame in hoping someone will read your words: it makes you feel less lonely, and a little helpful. If you search your heart and comb your thought for a semblance of truth, don’t you hope that someone else will profit by it? Wouldn’t it be nice to know you’re not alone in thinking the things you do, and feeling, too? Wouldn’t it be marvelous to watch the change on a person’s face when, reading your words, he says “a-ha!” and settles into the happy comfort of a shared truth, a common understanding?

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