I’d like to say that I’m writing for myself.
(Totally not true, of course, but I’d like to say it.)
It sounds noble and artistic and like I don’t give a shit what anyone else thinks about me. It lends the air of being among the writers of old who didn’t bother mailing their material out and just let it be discovered randomly in the walls of their homes after they died.
Writing for myself.
But I don’t. Â And I’m betting you don’t, either.
Thinking about it the other day, I realized that I have always written to a very specific, single Â reader.
In On Writing, Stephen King calls his person “Dear Constant Reader”Â. I always thought that was lame. (Though the book is awesome, and you should get it.) I’m starting to see, though, that he was right.
There is just one. It isn’t a crowd. I’m writing right now for a PANK crowd, and later this week I’ll write for a newspaper crowd, and on Monday I’ll probably write for a radio crowd. That’s work. That’s different. What I’m talking about here is the stuff that pours out of you creatively. Passionate writing, art.
When you create art, it’s moving toward someone. And it’s an uber-specific individual.
My person has drastically changed form throughout the years as I’ve grown and twisted, but there’s always been a lone, devoted person in the corner engrossed with a print-out of my words in my mind.
When I was a kid and I started on this whole writing bent, I wrote to some other nebulous chick who was just like me but a little younger. I told her how everything felt. I wrote about what it was like to get picked on at school, to wear glasses to second grade, to feel like your parents didn’t really like you. It was all quite emo, though we didn’t call it that yet.
(Sometimes, during my goofier eras, there were even imagined fan mail letters about my book, or televised invitations to write lyrics for Jackson Browne or Tom Petty. It was awesome.)
Later, I oozed puppy-love obsession into letters over and over, trying to win the soul of the basketball player I decided I was supposed to fall in love with. Even though I was too chicken to, you know, TALK to him. Ever. Once.
But I wrote to him. Yes, indeedy.
A-B-A-B poems by the dozen.
After my first serious, live-in relationship blew up in my face, I wrote rants and advice diatribes to my ex, then to my future and past selves about my ex, then to girls who had fallen for the same type of man as I had.
When my son was born, I wrote him journal entries and blog posts and post-it notes about what our life was like and where we went and when he first did every little thing, because even in my young age I know we’re all just getting older and I’ll be dead before he matures enough to care. And I want him to know.
My grandfather died a couple of years ago. Just after the funeral, my uncle said to me, “You know, I always wondered what it would be like to go back in time and have met him when he was younger, and just talk to him, hang out. I don’t mean him as our dad when we were growing up, but what he was really like, maybe when he was twenty. I wish I could have known him like that and spent time talking to him without his knowing I was his son.”Â
Not sure how that relates, but it does.
Who do you write for? Â Who will remember you?
Has that person changed along the way for you, too?