On having an audience

Queen's BathI haven’t written in awhile, and I was wondering to myself why I stopped obsessively writing here.

I still love writing. I still think and process information best with either a keyboard or pen and paper handy. I still think of myself as a writer more than anything else.

But it’s been a long time since I posted.

Sure, I got promoted to full-time just in time for the craziest part of our work year, and I went on vacation, and I’m moving. But still, no thoughts to process and post on my blog? Just when people started commenting more and being involved in the conversation here? How lame of me.

And why would I let the other things get in the way of my writing? I’ve published through more stressful times than my job is currently or has been in the near past. To say I’m too busy simply functions as an excuse everyone will accept without question.

But I finally figured out one major underlying, and rather bizarre, reason for my neglect: I have an audience.

When I started this blog, it was more of a silly place to come and ramble on about whatever I felt like writing. I think I’d had it a year before I really told anyone this place existed, because I didn’t really care if people found me or my writing. I just wanted to write.

And then I did kind of care if people found me. It coincided with the advent of all the social media stuff like facebook, twitter, tumblr, and numerous others I never bothered to check out. So I started actively writing and then telling everyone I ran into that I not only wrote but published it online, so if they wanted to check it out go to….

Surprisingly enough,  an audience appeared. And then my family would tell me in person they liked what I had to say. And then random people that I know in real life would tell me they liked my post about … And then people that I barely knew started commenting.

So I started second guessing myself about what I wanted to write about and whether this audience would find it interesting. And then the death knell of all death knells, I started wondering if it was appropriate to post about, and what if my writing offended the people reading?

And then I got too busy. But I didn’t really. I was just kind of weirded out by the idea that I knew who my audience was. And not in an “my audience is males 18 – 24 years of age” sort of way, but in the “my cousin is going to read this” sort of way.

But I realized the other morning, when I realized some of the reasons why I have let my passion start to fade, that all audiences are imaginary. So it doesn’t really matter what I think they might say to what I write.Because ultimately, this is my space to explore the random thoughts that show up in my head that no one actually wants to hear me process in a conversation.

I supposed I should clarify my definition and usage of imaginary here. I mean my understanding of the people who pass this way to read these very random thoughts is created by my imagination. I have just as much of a chance correctly guessing what 1 reader thinks about my writing as another regardless of how well I know them. For the sole reason that I am no one but myself. And being so confined, I cannot actually know what you think until you tell me. Anything I think you might say is imagined in my head. So if I’m creating your prospective response, I’ve created an imaginary audience, even if it is full of people I talk to around other people who can see and talk with them too.

So I’ve decided that allowing an essential part of my existence languish for fear of the reaction I might get epitomizes silliness. Instead of assuming I know what you’re all thinking, I’m going to go back to writing down thoughts I have that I want to explore in a space that is longer than 140 characters and takes a form I love. I will not intend to offend or entertain you, I will simply continue to be myself on the page and begin the process of being ok with having people tell me they read what I write. Because I’d rather write and keep myself balanced. And I’ll learn to live with a real interactive audience better than an imaginary one.