Here’s a philosophical question of unknown attribution: if you write a book and no one reads it, is it really a book?
Yes! we shout. We write out of passion; we write because we have to; we write for ourselves.
I don’t have to write, and I have other passions, all of which energize me. I hope I never have to pick one.
I write to share, to pose questions, to educate, to argue, to find an audience, to exchange ideas and stories. I don’t write for myself. I write for you.
I never had a diary as a kid, or a journal as an adult, other than a notebook of pieces that would eventually be the subject of a query letter. I’ve never written anything I didn’t want someone to read, whether it’s a letter to one person or a novel for . . . well, ok, maybe only a dozen or so.
That’s not to say I get nothing personally from writing. With Stephen King, I’m a firm believer in writing as therapy, but even as I’m pouring out a feeling onto the screen, I’m shaping it for a reader. What’s “true” no longer matters to me; I fix it so YOU will get my message or enjoy my story.
There are many things I love about writing-the clarity that comes with stepping back from an experience in order to put it into words that will carry the meaning; the delight in conjuring up fictional people and places and giving them an interesting, twisty story; the fun of producing a clever phrase once in a while.
But if you’re not reading, I’m not writing. I’m going to the movies. Or I’m rolling a ball down an inclined plane and calculating the acceleration.
How about you?