Once you decide you want to write and that you want share what you’ve written with other people, there is just no getting around the fact that the more people who like your stuff, the better. I’ve yet to meet an author for whom there is any ambiguity on this issue. It’s better when someone loves your story than when someone hates it, and it’s better to sell a lot of books than no books. This constant can make the whole business of being an author very confusing. Those other people who like or don’t like what you’ve written can easily become the focus of your attention. I am most immediately aware of this when I am speaking to groups of people. For me, there is very little distinction between speaking and writing; both expressions flow from the same tap. But speaking absolutely requires the physical presence of an audience, and it is tempting to pay attention to how that audience is responding to what I am saying, rather than what I am trying to say. The moment I do so, I become disoriented, having quite literally lost track of the path of thought I had been following.
This checking with the audience is a habit I developed a long time ago. I wanted to be impressive. Impressing people seemed like a viable goal for an artist. Or, perhaps more accurately, I wanted to leave an impression on people. I wanted to matter. I did not want to be forgotten, to dissolve into the background, a shadow subsumed by other shadows. How, I sometimes wondered, do I write so that my words to people are like my hands in damp sand?
It was a question that needed only time to reveal its answer. Every handprint in the sand is lost, and so too any impression I might or might not make on the mind of another. Which is why, when my goal becomes to express rather than impress, my own mind is righted, and I am headed where I want to go. How my work affects other people has much to do with who they are and where they are in their lives, neither of which I have control over. But I can control what I express, offering it up as part of the vast banquet of human thought, the sustenance we all require for our journey.
If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual and group coaching.
Fearless Writing: How to Create Boldly and Write With Confidence. You can find William at: williamkenower.com