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Writing finds its own audience

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Except: Even God had a hard time holding an audience for long

My cousin is a big cheese in the world of women’s studies. She’s published a number of books and teaches some pretty astute, high-level stuff to aspiring Ph.Ds. Once we talked about why anyone would write and what’s the point, after all, since fewer and fewer read. (By the way: I always say this to my classes, that even a paragraph of copy scares many of us. All those words, they’re just, well, so much work.)

My cousin said something to the effect that you’ve got to believe your writing will find its own audience. That is a perceptive statement and I’ve wrestled with it since. I think it is true. I hope it is true. And I know it is false—at least immediately.

Meh. Another Sunset.

Meh. Another Sunset.

Social technologies and search let more of us find our long-lost cousins and brothers and tribesmen—the ones we never knew existed. We find them because they speak our language, possibly with our own words. And we know them because they are passionate about our topics—the stuff we think on constantly. (“You write about garlic butter too? You are my brother!”)

It’s just that it may take a long, long time for that audience to co-locate to your web address or your part of the bookshelf. Of course we hear and read stories of the overnight success folks, who start a blog on Saturday and by Tuesday they are talking with Oprah. But for more of us, we tell our stories and organize our arguments and spin them out into silence. But we must continue on with diligence, continuing to tell the story, as if keeping the porch light on, waiting for that audience to show.

There’s an old story about God giving his words to a guy and telling him to say the words. But know that no one will listen—you’ll be banging your head against a brick wall most of the time. And it’s all going to end badly. But those words will take root. And those words will blossom.


And over time the audience did show up.

And we’re still reading those words today, lo, these thousands of years later.



Image credit: Kirk Livingston

Written by kirkistan

May 15, 2014 at 10:09 am

One Response

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  1. […] reminded of that bit of faith that writing will find its audience. As we prepare to launch our idea, and as we talk about who is open to hearing/acting on the idea, […]

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