Write what you need to write, not what is currently popular or what you think will sell.
— P. D. James, author
Write what you want to write and not what you think you ought to write or what other people think you should write.
— Joanne Harris, author
(Thanks to Roxical Thinking for introducing me to these quotes.)
The act of blogging, for me, requires constant reaffirmation of why I’m writing. Mine is a new little blog with a weird little niche in the vast expanse of catchy headlines and bad grammar that is the internet. This means that some days (like today), I’ll get a measly two page views. And I’ll be honest, that makes me a little sad. Humility has never been my strong suit. Because yes, I’m jealous when I see another new blogger who’s already got 1000 followers and pieces in The Huffington Post. I start thinking, What makes her so special? (Answer: She’s willing to publish non-anonymously and Tweet and do all that publicity stuff I’m completely uninterested in undertaking.)
At the same time, however – because the workings of my mind are remarkably paradoxical – each new follower gives me a little jolt of anxiety. What if they don’t like what I write next? Are they going to be disappointed that this blog isn’t all wry parenting posts? Or all academic stuff? Or all <insert latest post subject here>?
That’s why the above quotations struck me so forcefully. It’s good to be reminded that, fundamentally, I should be blogging for me. I should be writing what I need to write. I started this blog because I have Things To Say, and I needed an outlet in which to say them. Writing is cathartic. If others read my thoughts here, I should consider that a bonus. If others actually like reading them, that’s a double bonus.
It’s an ongoing struggle to separate myself from external validation. I know my husband reads my posts shortly after they go up; if he hasn’t mentioned it by the end of the day, it takes great concentration to avoid asking, “Did you see my blog post? Did you like it?” (I of course get great happiness when he does enjoy a post – just I as am enormously pleased to welcome new followers and commenters. I just need to make sure that I’m not relying on their – or his – approval.)
Dear readers (and I know there are at least two of you!), why do you write? Is it for fame and fortune or personal satisfaction? Or a little bit of both?