Hello my friend. You’re reading this post and I am writing it on my iPhone at 4am. For you, these words represent a “first-time experience, while for me, once I publish this, the words represent a multiple-experience event. My first draft of this idea is preceded by the germ of the idea which propelled me to forgo sleep. Then the first draft came out of my crazed brain, thumbs painfully slow compared to my keyboard speed on my laptop which is already packed for an 8 hour drive home.
Then comes the reworking of words to insure what I’m writing reflects approximately what I’m attempting to say. Then comes the selection of some sort of visual graphic which I hope will catch your attention but somehow be related to the writing.
Finally, the end piece is polished up and presented to the “Publish” button. I would like to say it ends there, but the truth is I edit my own writing better if I’m reading it in a “finished product” format rather than the editable product I’m writing in during a re-write and edit.
I’ll then make any final tweaks and now you may well be reading a final version. Sometimes I’m clued in that I have a typo, or something I’ve written needs some attention. Possibly you will see something now or in the next few moments of reading which needs attention. Maybe you take a moment of your valuable time to write a comment about your observation. Then I fix this for the next person.
You could take the time to respond to this writing because something affected you. Something touched you. Something about the arrangement of words and concepts called you to action to say something directly to me, the author.
Most of the time, writing gets read anonymously. My words go out into the darkness of the abyss, never to return a single echo, not even a whisper. Is this a failure of the words to connect with you, reader? Does the cold sting of no conversation reflect a shallowness or worse, a banality which was never overcome by brilliance?
Appropriate that I write this in darkness using only 20% of my fingers and likely even less of my brain capacity. Writers rarely know whether we reach our audience or we simply toss our collective words to the wind.
We spend much of our time wondering why the hell we do what we do. There’s a frustration of mind. We desire, even crave, not only your attention but also your response. When we receive the slightest of input from you we know the writing held some sort of merit. Something prodded you to let me/us know you stopped by to read.
Ok, yes. There is a counter which tracks views, but as a writer I don’t convince myself you actually read this far. In fact, I’m convinced that a “no response” number in the statistics line means you bailed out long ago. Not a good feeling, but a reality.
In truth, I’m writing into darkness each and every time I put my mind to work. I’m throwing whatever level of light I possess at the moment into a black hole of biting cold darkness. The results of my writing typically trickle back in stats as cold as the darkness to which the writing was doomed.
Then there is the comment. The magic connection that you create for me when you comment. One simple word like “Nice!” or “Thanks!” returns not only a glimmer of light back, but also something warm. Something intangibly heartening. Something along the lines of excitement.
I write into the abyss of darkness. As a writer, I fish for response. My days are filled with darkness and the flailing or railing against my absence of external light. The glimmer which emanates from a source other than me. It either comes from you or these words disappear into nothingness like so many million others.
Why would I do this? Why would I send the hour or two of time, words, and energy into the black pit of nothingness with scant hope of response? Scant hope of returned warmth? Scant hope of intellectual vindication?
The answer is as simple as the need to be heard and as complex as the desire to be creative and construct a following of intellect to build momentum and hopefully change my world in some helpful manner.
I work with writers nearly every day. I work to keep them motivated and inspired because I know they need the same thing as I – response. I need your response, not to necessarily agree or pat me on the back, but to prove connection may be made through words and concepts and imagination.
As a writer, I share me with you. I share my thoughts, views and emotions with you. I give something away other than time and effort. I expose a vulnerable piece of myself to you. I look too often for your “validation.” In sane moments, I realize my true “validation” emanates from the words you’re reading right now.
I acted on the germ of the thought which in turn created these words, worked over a few times to make them more palatable to you, the reader. I selected an image to attempt to draw your attention. And I wait. I don’t sit by the computer ready to spring into action when a comment brightens my day, but the computer does.
I get notified of response through email. I carry my email with me on my phone. And the writing comes full circle to this moment, now placed at 5am when I first endeavored to reach you, to touch you in some manner, so as to get a response from you. Now, after one hour of “thumb-writing” I fall back into the darkness of the thought that no one will read this far and no one will respond.
But I wrote this, didn’t I? If you’ve read this far, at least I’ve achieved something. But I will never know unless you take a moment of your life and give light and warmth back to me.
Book reviews are exponential steroidal equivalents to what I’ve written here. When a writer invests months, sometimes years to create a book, silence becomes their pain. Silence defines the darkness from which we operate. The crazy thing is, despite the darkness, we stand as ambassadors of light. I work to give you something of value.
Know this. Your response to any writer, be it a comment on a post like this or the incredible boost of a book review, means the world to me and writers like me. You hold our success in your response, or lack thereof.
Please, never diminish in your mind the power your words hold for me. Never hold back your words because you feel they own no value. Understand that words possess ultimate power and constantly change our world.
Go ahead. Make my day. Say something…