If you’re a writer, especially one who has embraced blogs, I have a warning for you. Despite your worst fears to the contrary, people are reading your articles, stories, and poems. People you will never meet will read your writing and form an opinion about your work, and possibly about you. Occasionally, you’ll hear from some of them, and this is both good and bad news. Take, for instance, an e-mail I received recently.
The writer (whom I won’t identify for fear that the Google Gods will once again bring my name to the Writer’s attention) sent me an e-mail about a post I had written on one of the Writer’s books. Yes, “Writer” with a capital “W” – someone published in a big way. Someone with an agent and reviews in large, national newspapers. Someone who gives interviews.
I marvel any time someone finds one of my blogs and takes the time to write. To me, it’s this incredible bonus because I enjoy writing so much, whether or not anyone reads my work. Honesty is a key ingredient in my writing, and I’m opinionated. I do my best to be tactful, but sometimes I’ve hit the “publish” button and felt my heart pound. A few months ago I wrote about a media panel here in Las Vegas, and I had a funny feeling when my post went up. I had given my very honest opinion about all the panelists, and I didn’t like all of them. Who will read this, anyway? I reasoned. Surely, even if they found my blog, the official Las Vegas media would regard me as nothing more than a speck on the windshield of the Internet, right? Just another irksome “citizen journalist.” Then I got an e-mail from one of the panelists – thankfully, he had given the presentation I liked – and I had to face the unpleasant thought that if one panelist had found my blog, then chances were good the rest of them had also.
Not until I got the e-mail from the Writer did I stop to re-examine my assumptions about who might be reading my work. The funny thing about the post that attracted the Writer’s attention is that I had labored long and hard over it, but not because I had concerns over what I’d written about the Writer. My concerns were over a segment about a local man, and I spent a day making sure that my words were fair and appropriate. The Writer’s e-mail was a surprise. Thankfully, it was a friendly counter-point to what I had written, one that gave me a chance to respond.
After the e-mail, I realized that making assumptions about who was reading my blog was foolish. Anyone might be reading my words – people from the other side of the world, famous people, angry people. Yikes. Talk about something that makes your heart pound! I had unwittingly envisioned walls and barriers that do not exist.
What about you? Have you heard from a surprising reader? Do you make assumptions about who reads your work?
Photo courtesy of Georgios Wollbrecht at http://www.sxc.hu/profile/Wazari