Marching For Yourself

I have written from time to time in this space about the view of writing for oneself as opposed to writing for your audience. Generally, most writers fall into the camp of writing for themselves, by which they mean they write to please themselves and assume that if they do so others will be pleased as well. There are some writers, however, who keep their readers in mind as they write. Often this is a specific age group or gender, which in turn informs the language and pacing of a book. My usual argument goes that since you are the only one in the room, you must be writing for yourself. But it becomes a matter of semantics. Yes, say those who write for their audience, I’m the only one in the room, but I write to be read, and the one doing the reading is someone else. On and on. In the end, however, getting where you need to go is all matters.

There is another side to this beyond the question of who the words on the page are intended to please. After all, the words on the page are only the end result of a lot of time spent not putting words on the page. There is the whole experience of writing – the waiting, the thinking, the cumulative process of turning an idea into words. For whom is that whole experience?

After all, you don’t have to write. There are so many other things you could do. You chose to do this, and by my count it is unlikely you will do it for very long unless the reason you are doing it is because you want to, or in other words – for yourself. Why else do anything?

This is selfishness at its finest. If you want to make the world a better place, do what pleases you most. The world will instantly be one happy person richer. I had a girlfriend in high school that felt I had a deplorable lack of social awareness. “I write,” was my answer at the time, which she considered a clear dodge to marching against nuclear proliferation. But I stand by my answer. The only reason anyone does anything is to be happy.

Wars are fought, heads decapitated, elections thrown all in the name of people being able to do or not do what makes them happy. If you love to march, then by all means, march until your feet bleed. But if marching does not make you happy, skip it. Otherwise, no matter how good the cause is in theory, you would in the end be marching in the name of duty and guilt, marching in the name of doing things because you must, because you wish to appear good – marching, in fact, in the name of people not doing what makes them happiest, which is the very thing that leads people to war in the first place.

If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual and group conferencing.

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