Friday, June 21, 2013

Your Good Intentions are Irritating: a Twitter comment run amuck

This is Conner's expression of mild disdain mixed with a dash of confusion and fistful of curiosity.
(Actually, I think he thought I was hiding a  piece of ham from him.)
Last week I wrote a post lamenting my literary award deficiency. I was overwhelmed by the kind comments and warm responses I received at that post. (Thank you, by the way!) Then I received a comment on Twitter from a completely random person (who doesn't even have a face, just a logo with a fundraising slogan as their user name) that said: 

"Just being a writer is reward in itself"

I didn't know Gandhi was on Twitter. Very deep. I hit the little star "favorite" button to acknowledge the comment and moved on. However, the comment kept coming back to mind, nagging at me (obviously, or I wouldn't be blogging about it a week later.) Here's why: 

I know that writing can be used as catharsis and that alone is reward for some people. When I worked in the psychology field, we had residents keep journals, compose letters, create poetry, and use written expression to emote all the wreckage and turmoil going on inside. However, being "a writer"--at least, as far as I'm concerned--is not an open door for emoting or finding the self-satisfaction of pouring my deepest thoughts and convictions onto a page to present to the world as food for soul digestion.

I don't write simply to write. That's what journaling is for. Besides, only famous dead people have their journals published. So, since I'll never be famous enough for the jabbering I do in my leather-bound to be of interest, there's little expectation of connecting through that type of writing. Which brings me to my point: 

A writer's task is to connect. 

Without the profound and symbiotic relationship between writer and reader my role as "writer" loses all meaning. I write in the hopes that someone somewhere is intrigued enough to expose themselves to my words. I write in the hopes that through my characters and plotlines, imagery and dialogue, diction and syntax the audience will feel as though they've passed their time in good company. I write in the hopes of presenting a gleam of Truth that the audience recognizes as a certainty somewhere deep inside themselves. A reader may even find a connection to, feel an affinity for, one of my characters. By connecting to my characters the reader is connecting with me, the writer. Because I, too, love my characters--if I didn't I wouldn't be writing their stories. 

There are always pieces of myself in each character. We write what we know, yes? And we cannot know our characters truly until we know ourselves. And my self is telling me that this random Comment-Thrower on Twitter hasn't a clue what he or she is talking about. 

Mr. or Ms. Just-being-a-writer-is-reward-in-itself, while I'm sure you tweeted with the best of intentions, I'm sorry to say that you're dead wrong. If I were to adhere to your mentality, I may as well stop writing because I would produce nothing more than self-indulgent, emo rubbish. And my aim is a bit higher than that, my friend, much higher. (By the way, you may find beneficial my post on knowing when to keep silent.)

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  1. This is so simple yet profoundly true. The essential value of the writer-reader connection is something I'm just beginning to appreciate myself. We write different things for different purposes, but my primarily motivation as a writer is to share whatever measure of giftedness God has granted me with a world in need of encouragement, honesty, humor, etc. If who I am and what I do isn't connecting with anyone, why should I keep doing it? Thank you for putting such eloquent words to this powerful lesson.

    1. Thank you, Alison. And I too am only just beginning to understand this connected-ness between writer and reader. It's a strange, amorphous thing that presents itself at times in one shape, and it takes a distant, unfamiliar shape the next. It's confusing yet irresistible to me--I love this journey that we're on :)


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